Maute's main force leaves Lanao town, 49 dead

ATTACK. Philippine troops fire their 105mm howitzer cannons towards enemy positions from their base near Butig town in Lanao del Sur on November 27, 2016. File photo by AFP

ATTACK. Philippine troops fire their 105mm howitzer cannons towards enemy positions from their base near Butig town in Lanao del Sur on November 27, 2016.

File photo by AFP

LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines – The main force of the Maute terror group that occupied parts of Butig town in Lanao del Sur has left the area, according to the military.

At least 49 members of the local terror group inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS) were killed in days of operations while 21 soldiers were injured, the military added.

"As of this morning, we have regained two-thirds of the area (they occupied) in Butig," said Colonel Rosseler Murillo, chief of the Army 103rd Brigade in an interview Wednesday morning, November 30.

"The main force left," Murillo added.

It has come down to close quarter battle to retake the abandoned municipal hall, where the Maute group raised the black flag of ISIS. The ISIS black flag has been taken down, according to Murillo.

Murillo said the situation is "fluid," but they aim to take the town hall "within the day." He said they encountered up to 200 members of the Maute group last week, but only about 70 of them occupied parts of the town. 

Duterte visit

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to meet closed doors with military officers here on Wednesday.

The military offensive was launched Monday morning, November 28. Troops from the Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG) – the same team of elite soldiers that was sent to respond to the Zamboanga siege in 2013 – joined the operations of the Army's 103rd Brigade under Colonel Roseller Murillo.

A total of 1,955 families in Butig have been displaced as a result of the fighting.

In August this year, fighting erupted also in the area, forcing  tens of thousands to flee their homes as helicopter gunships fought off the attackers. The group's members were seen carrying black flags of the ISIS group, and bandannas bearing the jihadists' insignia were found in their base, the military said. – Rappler.com