MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 09 June) — With June 12 set as their deadline, government forces unleashed the entire inventory of the Philippine Air Force to bomb remaining positions held by the Maute Group in barangays Banggolo, Lilod and Marinaut as ground troops maneuvered their way into these villages.
From the latest fighter, the South Korean made FA 50; the night fighting AW-109 attack helicopters to the old reliables — the MG 520 helicopters and OV-10 Bronco bombers, government forces rained machinegun and bombs from Thursday night until Friday.
The use of these planes sent rescue volunteers and journalists gazing as they came in swooping from the blue skies Friday.
Ground troops also moved closer to the enemy line and more truckloads of soldiers were seen entering Marawi early Friday morning. By nightfall in Iligan, several KM trucks of the military could be seen carrying wounded soldiers from the battlefield, dextrose bottles hanging from the frame of the canvas roofing.
A15-year old boy was killed while saying his Friday prayers at a mosque near Campo Ranao, base of the 103rd Brigade. A stray bullet believed to be from a sniper hit him on the head.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Mindanao Command told MindaNews Friday night that it was not from sniper fire but “most probably stray bullet.”
“Malakas ang encounter kanina. Maraming ligaw na bala. Hindi sniper (The encounter was intense today. There were stay bullets all over. It was not from a sniper). Most probably stray bullet,” he said.
Galvez on Thursday said they were “looking at the possibility that the end will be near.”
Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, chief of the Army 1st Infantry Division wi”within four days we will gain headway” or by June 12 which happens to be Philippine Independence Day.
The intensity of the bombings Friday prevented rescuers from moving to get trapped civilians out.
Spokespersons Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong and Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera of the 1st Infantry Division, told a press briefing early Friday afternoon that they estimate the number of trapped civilians at “500 to 1,000.” (see other story)
Bautista said they estimate the number of the enemy force at 230 as of Thursday morning.
Herrera early Friday afternoon said their number ranges from “200 to 230.”
He said at least 138 terrorists had been killed while the number of soldiers killed was 40 and civilians at 20.
Malacanang’s Presidential Communications Office emailed at 4:51 p.m. a list of 45 government troops killed in Marawi from May 23 until 9 a.m. on June 9, three of them policemen.
As of 6 p.m. on June 9, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported a total of 252,638 (52,460 families) have been displaced by the armed conflict in Marawi. (Froilan Gallardo and Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)