MARAWI CITY, July 25— Troops are carefully advancing towards the positions of the Maute group members and Abu Sayyaf bandits while clearing this city’s conflict zone of improvised bombs.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, newly-designated Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson, on Tuesday said the fleeing Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – inspired Maute group members and Abu Sayyaf bandits left several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on their trail.
“Several IEDs were also recovered in the different areas within and outside the main battle area by our EOD (Explosive Ordnance Demolition) teams who are paneling the different sectors of the city,” Petinglay said.
She said that an IED was recovered and successfully detonated last Friday, July 21, in one of the houses being cleared by the troops.
She added that the explosive device was believed emplaced by the ISIS – inspired terror group to inflict casualties among the soldiers tracking them.
As of Tuesday, the troops have killed a total of 453 Maute group members and Abu Sayyaf bandits.
On the government side, 109 soldiers have been killed since the fighting started on May 23.
Petinglay said the emplacement of IEDs is among the reasons why the military authorities prevented the civilians to return home in the conflict zones.
“This is one reason why there is a need to clear every single house, since, if left undiscovered, the IED will certainly victimize residents returning to their homes,” she explained.
Petinglay said another reason is the presence of stragglers and the troops have yet to recover all the dead in the conflict zone.
Petinglay said the commanders on the ground led by Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., and Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista “have not yet given a green light on the return of Marawi residents, not until clearing operations are done.”
The statement was issued following calls from civilians for the military to allow them to return home.
The fighting in this city started on May 23 after some 700 Maute group members and Abu Sayyaf bandits occupied the downtown area in an attempt to declare a caliphate. (Darwin Wally T. Wee/PNA)