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AKIPRESS.COM - When Philippines troops advanced on positions held by Islamist militants in a southern city last week, they were caught in a kill zone.
Technical Sergeant Mahamud Darang said his armored carrier came under fire from a black-clad militant firing rocket-propelled grenades as a column of troops crossed the Agus River toward the commercial center of Marawi City, an area held by the militants since May 23, Reuters reported.
The first grenade hit the ground in front of them, Darang told Reuters. He then spotted the shooter, just before he fired again.
"He was on the third floor of a building. Then the second one came right into the vehicle and blew up," said Darang, speaking from a hospital bed, his head and shoulders bandaged from shrapnel wounds.
One soldier died and Darang and some of the others were wounded. Bleeding, the 21-year army veteran ordered his comrades to dismount from the burning vehicle and take cover in a nearby building.
The four soldiers were rescued later and taken to hospital.
The rest of the contingent also came under withering fire from militants in buildings, five to ten storys high, as they crossed the low-lying Mapandi bridge over the river. Some were hit by Molotov cocktails.
Thirteen soldiers in all were killed and about 40 injured in Friday's 14-hour battle, a major setback to government forces and a signal that the battle to recapture the city from an estimated 150-200 Islamic State militants will be difficult.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said a couple of times that the battle for Marawi would be over in a few of days.