MANILA -- The number of Maute Group members killed in the ongoing military operations in Butig, Lanao del Sur has reached 62, an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday, December 2.
"The number continue(s) to rise in favor of government. The final number that we got as an update was 62 killed on the part of the local terrorist group,” AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
Padilla said there are also 15 terrorist group members wounded in the firefight that started almost a week ago when the Maute Group occupied a an area of Butig town.
Padilla said that about 37 government troopers were also wounded, including those who were hurt during the roadside bombing in Marawi City last Tuesday.
"The area will continuously be secured until we guarantee that this local terrorists will be unable to return to the area," Padilla said.
Padilla said the build-up area that were tentatively occupied by the Maute Group had all been cleared.
"What remains for us is to clear the outskirts and the operation is ongoing. The center itself is well-secured," he said.
The military, he added, is now preparing for the return of the local residents to their home and "resume their normal lives."
Meanwhile, Padilla denied accusations from a youth group that the ambush of the President’s advance party was set up by the military.
"I’d like to state that whatever news that came out viral in social media coming from a certain alleged youth group is nothing but propaganda," Padilla said.
"The incident did and actually happened and was not something that was contrived or made up by the Armed Forces. Our men were hurt in a roadside bombing," he added.
Padilla admitted that military committed lapses in securing the area, allowing the terrorist group to dump a piece of bag containing the IED in the area where they know the convoy will be passing.
"The convoy was an easy target because it was marked vehicle and they were moving in broad daylight," he explained.
Seven members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and two of the troops escorting the convoy were hurt in the explosion.
President Duterte visited the wounded PSG members and soldiers in a hospital in Cagayan de Oro last Wednesday. (PNA)