Military kills armed men trying to enter Marawi battle zone

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military said it killed 10 armed men who tried to enter the battle zone in Marawi City in the wee hours of Monday, August 28.

A 3-hour firefight erupted at Lake Lanao after troops intercepted two motorized bancas attempting to sneak in.

"Soldiers of the Task Group Musang were able to intercept 10 members of the Daesh-inspired Maute terror group on board two motorized pump boats who attempted to sneak into the main battle area at 2:30 dawn today," said Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the military's Joint Task Force (JTF) Marawi.

The military recovered the bodies of 5 of the armed men, one of the bancas, and an M16 rifle. The second banca is believed to have sunk. They are still searching the area for the other 5 bodies.

It's the latest attempt to reinforce the local terrorists fighting troops in the war that has dragged on for over 3 months. Petinglay said the military also killed two other armed men who attempted to enter the battle zone two weeks ago.

Clashes were also reported last week in the neighboring town of Marantao, believed to be another ploy to divert military attention from ground zero in Marawi City.

The military said it has made significant advances against the terrorists, although it remains unclear when displaced residents can expect to return to their homes.

Troops reported retaking key enemy strongholds such as the Islamic Center – the Grand Mosque where hostages were previously kept – and the Saint Mary's Parish, where a Catholic priest was taken hostage when the clashes erupted on May 23.

President Rodrigo Duterte made his 3rd visit to Marawi City last week to mark successful operations to retake the Grand Mosque. His 1st and 2nd visits also marked significant advances in the battle zone – the retaking of Mapandi Bridge and the Safrullah M. Dipatuan (SMD) General Hospital or Safrullah Hospital. – Rappler.com