President Rodrigo Duterte made his fourth visit to Marawi on Monday. He visited the Grand Mosque, which was recently liberated from Maute by government troops after three months of intense fighting.
“The president’s recent presence in the main battle area has left a mark on our troops, in their strong desire to end the crisis in Marawi,” said Joint Task Force Marawi Commander Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista.
Duterte was accompanied by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., presidential adviser on military affairs Arthur Tabaquero, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año, and Army Chief Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda.
Around 1:19 a.m. on Tuesday, Marines and the Special Operations Group, under the Joint Task Group Tiger, engaged the terrorists in a heavy exchange of fire that lasted about 30 minutes.
The Joint Task Force Marawi said five Maute members were killed. Two of the bodies were retrieved, while the others “were left on the site because of dangerous circumstances.”
The troops recovered two high-powered firearms and a night-vision goggle. No casualties were reported on the government side.
Maj. Gen. Danilo Pamonag, commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident, said: “The seamless integration of troops’ interoperability with their heightened morale in fighting the enemy has resulted in the swift and calculated assault on enemy positions.”
He added: “This accomplishment shows that the enemy’s hold in Marawi City is reducing day by day. It is only a matter of time that the crisis will end.”
More than 600 Maute members, 147 government troops and 45 civilians have been killed in the conflict in Marawi so far.
Among the latest government fatalities were Capt. Rommel Sandoval, company commander of the 11th Scout Ranger Co., and Private First Class Sherwin Canapi.
The two were killed as they tried to rescue a wounded comrade during an operation on Sunday.
Duterte paid his respects to the fallen soldiers before their bodies were taken to Manila from Cagayan de Oro City on Monday.