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405 Maute men dead in conflict

by Francis T. Wakefield and Genalyn D. Kabiling

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said yesterday that 405 members of the Maute Group have been killed in the conflict in Marawi City that started last May 23.

AFP Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgar Arevalo said 95 soldiers and policemen have been killed in the fighting while 503 firearms have been recovered by security forces from the militants.

Forty five civilians have so far been killed in the fighting.

Clearing operations in four barangays in Marawi still occupied by the Islamic State-inspired militants are still ongoing, according to Arevalo.

Meanwhile, the government has appealed to residents of Marawi to wait for the end of the hostilities before returning to their communities for their own safety.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Palace understands the sentiment of the Marawi residents wanting to return home but warned them of “high” risk of explosives and other traps left by terrorists in the area.

“For the safety of everyone, it is better to just wait for the end of hostilities and the completion of clearing operations,” Abella said.