Lorenzana sees Marawi cleared by June 1

May 30, 2017 - 7:50 AM
Smoke rises in the distance as armored vehicles take up positions near soldiers taking a break from fighting against the Maute group in Marawi City. (photo by Erik De Castro, Reuters)

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday he expects clearing operations in Marawi City to be completed by June 1.

Lorenzana said the operations to clear Marawi City of terrorists are on track and he regularly gets updates from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Fighting in Marawi City started May 23 when military units, receiving reports that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon was there, mounted an operation and were attacked by the Maute group.

Since then, “we are in full control, meaning to say we can control who comes in and who comes out, who moves around and who doesn’t. And we’re trying to isolate all these pockets of resistance that have remained,” AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said.

As of Monday, the military said 61 members of the Maute group have been killed with government losing 15 soldiers and three policemen. Nineteen civilians have also died while 390 have been rescued.

Government forces have seized 41 firearms.