The fighting continues to rage in the embattled Philippines city of Marawi as government military forces have killed nine fighters from groups that have joined the Islamic State. The Filipino army continued to push their offensive against these armed groups who are holed up in the once bustling college town on the island of Mindanao.
On Thursday morning, military spokeswoman Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay said in a statement that fighters linked from the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf engaged the Filipino military forces. The army then retaliated with airstrikes and artillery fire.
“Those enemies who died in the offensives include men of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon who are digging for a tunnel under a mosque trying to escape the battle zone or reach the lake,” Petinglay said.
Hapilon, who is wanted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and has a $5m bounty, is suspected to have led the siege in Marawi which is now in its 12th week.
At least 122 soldiers have also been killed while 45 civilians have died in the fighting.
The remaining fighters, including several foreigners, have at least 100 civilian hostages. Four were recently rescued.
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law on the entire island of Mindanao since the fighting began in May when the Maute Group attacked Marawi. The military had hoped that the fighting would be over in just weeks. However, progress has been slowed due to Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups taking hostages and using them as human shields.
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