BUTIG, Lanao del Sur -- At least 20 soldiers were wounded and some 35 Maute group members were killed in the third day of military operations in the town.
At least seven wounded Army troopers were evacuated through Philippine Air Force (PAF) Huey helicopters.
As early as 5:30 a.m. of Monday, November 28, a series of rounds from the Army’s 105 mm howitzers were fired toward the positions of the Maute group in preparation for assaults by infantry troops with armor tanks.
Colonel Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, said around 300 armed local terrorists are still entrenched in various positions in Butig.
Aside from bombarding Maute group positions with 105 mm howitzers, two OV-10 Broncos also conducted bombing runs Monday morning.
Butig Mayor Dilanggalen Pansar said Sunday November 27, that the life in Butig has been totally affected by the ongoing conflict, with over 90 percent of the town’s residents evacuating to nearby towns and to Marawi City.
Pansar said classes had also been suspended since the military operations started over the weekend.
Lanao del Sur Governor Sorraya Adiong has directed the Provincial Social Welfare Office to provide food and relief assistance to the displaced families who evacuated to nearby barangays of Butig and Lombayanague.
Based on the provincial records released by Salama Jayne Tamano, a total of 1995 displaced persons were given initial relief and food assistance as of November 27.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, announced that it will spare no effort or resources to contain the Maute Group, which is now the object of dislodgement operations in Butig.
The AFP public affairs office chief Colonel Edgar Arevalo said the military will continue with its operations to prevent the bandits from spreading violence in other areas of the province.
"The AFP will continue to frustrate their sinister objectives as was manifested by the military's forthwith and continuing action in preventing the situation from escalating or spilling to other areas," he said.
Butig residents have abandoned the town after receiving reports that the Maute Group, the suspects behind the deadly Davao City blast last September 2, will attack the municipality again.
This is the second attack against Butig town. The first took place in February this year.
Around 50 to 100 terrorists are believed to be holding in the old Butig municipal building.
The bandits even raised the terrorist group Islamic State flag at the pole in the abandoned municipal compound in a bid to get support from the international terror group.
Arevalo earlier said the bandits' decision to hole up in Butig is a reaction to the military's ongoing offensive against the lawless band.
"We are already conducting operations and in anticipation of our action they (Maute Group) thought Butig will be our objective, so what they did they rushed to the place and occupied and (took defensive) positions there. Because of that, we were constrained into conducting operations to dislodge them," he added. (With a report from PNA)
READ: 11 Maute members killed, 4 troops hurt in Lanao Sur clash