Marawi : Philippine troops pounded Islamist militants holding parts of southern Marawi city with air strikes and artillery on Saturday as more soldiers were deployed and the death toll rose to more than 300 after nearly a month of fighting.
Fires erupted and dark plumes of smoke rose from enclaves still occupied by the militants as the air force staged bombing runs to support ground troops struggling to dislodge the fighters from entrenched positions, journalists at the scene said.
MG520 attack helicopters and FA50 fighter jets were used in the raids, while sustained bursts of automatic gunfire could be heard in the distance, indicating the intensity of the fighting. Also on Saturday, 400 fresh troops were airlifted to Marawi from the central Philippines, ANC television said quoting military officials.
Television footage showed the soldiers bidding goodbye to their families before being flown to the conflict zone.
Hundreds of militants — supported by foreign fighters — rampaged through Marawi, the largely Christian Philippines’ most important Muslim city, on May 23 waving black flags of the Islamic State (IS) group.