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Gov’t troops drive away Maute Group from Butig

The besieged town of Butig in Lanao del Sur has been cleared of terrorists from the Maute Group, Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said yesterday.

“Based on the report of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, (Butig town) has been 100 percent cleared of the (Maute Group) and that clearing and fixing of the damaged inflicted on the municipality is now ongoing before allowing the return of residents who evacuated,” Padilla said. The 103rd Infantry Brigade is the lead military unit in the almost six-day dislodgement operations against the bandit group.

Prior to this, the town will be turned over to the local government unit, Padilla added.

Sixty one members of the Maute Group have been killed while 35 soldiers were wounded in the almost six-day fighting in Butig.

Padilla said they are still verifying if the terrorist group sustained additional casualties during Wednesday night’s operation.

Earlier in the day, government forces recaptured the old Butig municipal hall following the withdrawal of Maute Group bandits holed up there in the wake of the AFP intense operations.

The offensive against the terrorists started last November 26 when the bandits, fearful of ongoing operations against them, decided to hole up in Butig.

The Maute Group also tried to capture the abandoned Butig municipal hall last February only to be foiled by government troops.

Meanwhile, Padilla vehemently denied reports claiming that the roadway bombing incident in Marawi City which wounded nine troopers, including seven members of the Presidential Security Group advance party last November 29, was staged.

Padilla said that it is “against the principle of every soldier to wound or hurt a fellow comrade-in-arms.”

He added the AFP remains apolitical and committed to upholding its mandate of protecting the country and people against all forms of threats. (PNA)