September 25, 2017, 1:22 am
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Troops assault Maute lair, kill 5 terrorists

FIVE Maute Group members were killed yesterday by government forces in the dragging conflict in Marawi City.

Fighting broke out at around 1:19 a.m. after the Marines Special Operations Group soldiers assaulted a lair of the terrorist group, some 10 hours after President Duterte visited the main battle area.

The firefight lasted only about 30 minutes, said Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, civil military operations officer of the military’s Joint Task Force Marawi.

No one was reported killed or injured on the side of the government, he added.

The latest Maute fatalities are in addition to the 665 others killed since the fighting broke out on May 23. The conflict has also resulted in the death of 147 soldiers and policemen and 45 civilians.

The latest military fatalities are Capt. Rommel Sandoval, commander of the 11th Scout Ranger Company, and one his men, Pfc Sherwin Canapi. They died Sunday inside the 500-square meter main battle area.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2005, Sandoval is the highest ranking military officer to die in the Marawi conflict. He and Canapi died during a clearing operation in one of the buildings in the area.

Sandoval went to rescue a team leader who was left at the first floor of the building they were clearing, wounded and still being fired at by the Maute, said   Scout Ranger Books, a Facebook page that deals with Scout Ranger issues.

Brig. Gen. Rolando Bautista, JTF Marawi commander, said the troops’ fighting spirit was boosted by the “strong motivation and encouragement of the commander-in-chief.”

President Duterte visited the troops at the main battle area Monday.

“The President’s recent presence in the main battle area has left a mark in our troops in their strong desire to end the crisis in Marawi,” said Bautista who supervises the operations to resolve the conflict.

Three Mindanao bishops who are going to Rome this week expressed hope they could talk with Pope Francis.

“We may have an opportunity to have a private audience with the Holy Father so we can relay to him the situation of our people in Marawi, including the situation of the prelature,” said Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña over Church-run Radio Veritas, adding arrangements are being made for them to see the Pope.

Dela Peña, Cotabato Archbishop Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma will be in Rome from September 14 to 16 for an inter-faith dialogue organized by the lay group “Community SantEgidio,” and are set to meet with Filipinos in Italy.

There are about 108,000 Filipinos in Italy, mostly based in Rome.

“It is very important for us to hear the message of the Holy Father so that we can be given the strength to go on, and also the hope to strive to rebuild our Church, because it is really down right now,” said Dela Peña. – With Gerard Naval
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