MANILA-- The military has two noble missions it must accomplish in its war on terror against the Maute terrorists in Marawi City as fighting entered its 26th day on Saturday.
One is to preserve the republic by wiping out the terror group, who wanted to establish a caliphate in Marawi .
Secondly, while the soldiers are busy fighting their other mission is to rescue civilians trapped in the fighting and are being used as human shields by the Islamic militants.
Brig. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that as of 6 p.m. Friday, 225 terrorists have been killed since fighting erupted on May 23.
The military suffered 59 killed in action, while 26 civilians were also slain during the same period. So far, the military has rescued 1,629 civilians trapped in buildings in the war-torn city.
There are still an undetermined number of civilians being held as human shields by the terrorists.
Government forces have to be extra careful in their offensive because aside from civilians being used as human shields, the terrorists have planted improvised explosive devices (IED) in strategic areas and in buildings occupied by the Maute group.
Padilla also said that most of the casualties suffered by government forces came from terrorist snipers, who are posted in tall buildings in the city.
An Australian journalist, identified as Adam Harvey of the Australian Broadcasting Company, who was hit by shrapnel that pierced his neck just after he took off his armored vest and helmet upon reaching the capitol building.
Harvey was immediately rushed to the city hospital. Harvey was the first journalist who was wounded while covering the fighting in Marawi City.
Since Day One of the fighting, Philippine Air Force (PAF) planes and helicopter gunships, including the newly acquired F50 jets have been used in surgical airstrikes that killed most of the 225 terrorist casualties.
Padilla said airstrikes would continue to be used by the AFP to cripple once and for all the remaining Maute terrorists still holed out in four barangays in Marawi.
Government forces have recaptured 96 per cent of Marawi City since fighting started more than three weeks ago.
Padilla also said that government troops captured more than 200 high-powered weapons left behind by slain terrorists since fighting erupted more than three weeks ago.
Padilla said these heartless terrorists using civilians as human shields had prevented government forces from firing their gun for fear the civilians would be killed.
On Wednesday (June 14), five civilians and five policemen dashed to freedom when they saw an opportunity to escape.
They sustained bruises in various parts of their bodies during their daring escape.
Last week, the military arrested Ominta Romato Maute, alias Farhana, mother of terrorist leaders Omar and Abdulla Maute, who is allegedly the financier of the Maute terrorist group.
Also arrested were Fajad Salic, former mayor of Marawi, and nine others.
They were intercepted at a checkpoint manned by Philippine Army troopers.
Rebellion charges have been filed against them The charges were filed after prosecutors found probable cause against the accused for conniving with the Maute group by actively engaging in an armed rebellion against the government, according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tagged Farhana as the Maute group's adviser and financier, given her vast financial resources drawn locally and abroad.
Farhana is the first wife of Cayamora Maute, who was arrested at a checkpoint in Davao City on June 6. She was arrested in Masiu, Lanao del Sur, along with two wounded Maute group members, last Friday.
Aside from Salic and Maute, also charged in court were Sumaya Bangkit Masakal, Radiea Tugosa Asire, Mariam Ibnu Abubakar, Zafeerah Rosales Musa, Nehreen Macaraya Abdul, Nora Moctar Limgas, Mardiyya Haji Ali, Sumayya Lawi Ali and Noronisa Haji Camal.
All 11 accused are in the list of over 300 individuals identified as members of the Maute group, the Abu Sayyaf group, and their sympathizers earlier ordered arrested by the government for the crime of rebellion.
Authorities confiscated from Farhana one M14 rifle, seven M14 magazine assembly, 136 M14 live ammunition, one scope, two rifle grenades, two improvised rocket propelled grenades and two smoke grenades.
On the other hand, seized from Salic four units of M203 grenade, one M16 rifle loaded with 29 pieces of live ammunition and three pieces of long magazine with each loaded with 30 pieces of 5.56 bullets.
When Maute terrorists lay siege on Marawi City, they waved the black Islamic State flag, and at the same time killed civilians and took hundreds of hostages.
This prompted President Rodrigo R. Duterte to declare martial law the whole of Mindanao to prevent the terrorists from spreading their deadly tentacles to the region Mindanao.
Duterte was visiting Russia at the time when Maute terrorists seized Marawi.
He said that the Maute group wanted to establish an ISIS province in southern Philippines. The military has uncovered a plot that Maute terrorist group was planning to attack the nearby Iligan City after Marawi.
Source: Philippines News Agency