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Military eyes ridding Marawi of Maute gunmen before October 15

The military once again gave itself another deadline, this time eyeing to rid Marawi City of Maute group terrorists on or before Sunday, October 15, a ranking Mindanao-based official said Monday.

At a press briefing, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez said fighting is now concentrated only in a five-hectare area.

"It will be cleared not later than [October] 15, which is our deadline," Galvez said. "We are confident we will be able to clear the remaining area in the next few days."

It was not the first time the military gave itself a deadline in solving the Maute crisis. Last month, officials made September 30 as their deadline in freeing the city.

Galvez also said they have recovered another mosque from Maute control on Sunday, bringing to only one the number of mosque subject for recovery. Three soldiers were killed in the operation.

Government troops have been battling members of the ISIS-inspired group in Marawi City since late May, a conflict that has already resulted in hundreds of deaths, including of civilians.

Military data said 158 soldiers and policemen, 774 terrorists and 47 civilians were killed in the conflict.

The attack on Marawi City by the Maute group has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put the entire Mindanao under martial law.

Galvez said Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año, who is set to retire on October 26,  has already been informed of the new deadline.

"The timeline that we gave to the chief of staff is October 15, but I believe we can achieve that not later than October 15," he said.

Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the Joint Task Force Ranao, said the conflict area has been equally divided among three task groups.

Brawner  could not immediately say the size of conflict area though officials earlier said part of around 10 to 12 barangays of Marawi have been affected by the conflict. —KBK, GMA News