Duterte says Maute Group forces him to fight, with 61 bandits killed

MANILA, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that operations against the local terrorist Maute Group continues as the number of the bandits killed rose to 61.

Duterte, in an interview in southern city of Cagayan de Oro where he visited the wounded soldiers, said as much as possible, he did not want to wage a war against Filipinos.

"I'm doing everything to prevent a war," he said. But he said the Maute Group forced him to order the military to go after them.

"The fight goes on," he said.

On Tuesday, seven of the members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), were injured when an improvised explosive device went off the highway while their convoy was passing.

The PSG members were part of the advance team who would secure Duterte who pushed with his trip to Butig on Wednesday. He also visited the wounded PSG members in the hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.

Major Felimon Tan, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said the number of wounded soldiers also increased to 35, while 12 from the Maute Group.

Colonel Edgard Arevalo, Arm Force of the Philippines public affairs office chief, said the government troops have "successfully retaken the old municipal hall of Butig," which the Maute group occupied last Saturday.

Soldiers have been clearing the area from unexploded ordnance, he added.

[ Editor: Jiaming ]


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