World

3 dead, 52 hurt as Philippine army pushes on in Marawi

MANILA: Philippine troops have fought one of their toughest clashes against militants loyal to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Marawi city, and three soldiers were killed and 52 wounded, many by rebel bombs as they pushed forward, an officer said yesterday.

The militants shocked the world by seizing large parts of Marawi in May.

After more than 100 days of fighting, pockets of fighters remain dug in in the ruins.

The army made its push on Thursday, the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, and seized a bridge in what military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla described as some of the toughest fighting yet.

At least five militants were killed, he said.

"We are working to clear the remaining areas where the enemy is holding out.

"Following a short pause early today, to give due respect to the solemnity and significance of this day, the operations will continue without any let up," he said, referring to the holiday.

The military has expressed confidence the end is in sight for what has been its biggest security crisis in years, but the latest casualties underscore the difficulty they still face in the battlefield.

In all, 620 militants, 45 civilians and 136 soldiers and policemen have been killed in the fighting that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and raised fears about ISIS establishing a foothold in South-east Asia.

The military has missed repeated targets to crush the rebels in the largely Muslim city, raising questions about whether it can contain a wider rebellion.- REUTERS

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