MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The death of an elite Army soldier early morning on Friday, July 21, brought the military’s death toll in Marawi City to 100.
The yet to be named soldier – a fighter of the Army Light Reaction force – was advancing to clear another building in the battle zone when a sniper’s bullet killed him, according to a Rappler source privy to the operations on the ground.
“He’s our 100th KIA (killed in action),” said the source. The military has not released the number of wounded soldiers.
He also died on the 60th day of the clashes against homegrown terrorist groups that pledged allegiance to the international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS). A few hundred buildings have yet to be cleared in the battle zone.
Official tally shows 99 government forces have been killed in Marawi. The military waits 24 hours before releasing its latest death toll.
Up to 427 terrorists and 45 civilians have been killed, according to military data. A total of 525 firearms were also recovered. (READ: Marawi battle zone: Urban warfare challenges PH military)
Crossing the Mapandi Bridge
The death toll among government forces reached the 3-digit mark a day after troops scored a major triumph in the battlefield. The government gained control of a road extending from Mapandi Bridge, allowing troops to cross the bridge with less resistance.
Mapandi Bridge is one of 3 bridges on Agus River that separate the so-called safezone – the northern half of Marawi that is controlled by the military – and the main battle area in the vicity of Banggolo located at the city’s southern half.
Enemy snipers are well placed at the end of the bridges on the southern half of the city, making the bridges practically unuseable since the clashes started. The military has been forced to take a longer route to inject troops inside the main battle area.
It was past the Mapandi Bridge where military suffered the so-called “Bloody Friday” when 13 Marines conducting combat clearing operations were killed in a single day.
But on Thursday morning, July 20, troops finally gained control of the road extending from Mapandi Bridge going towards the battle zone.
Clearing operations continue. The Mapandi bridge is still unsafe for civilians but troops are soon expected to use the bridge for faster deployment to the battle area.
Two other bridges remain a challenge, the New Bridge and the Banggolo Bridge.