April 24, 2018, 8:58 pm
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22 bodies of Maute men found

GOVERNMENT forces on Tuesday found 22 bodies, believed to be that of Maute Group members, inside two structures in Marawi City, which the military started assaulting last week.

Special Forces 2Lt. Harold Mark Juan, who led the assault on the two commercial buildings, died in the fighting.

The latest fighting brought to 802 the number of Maute members killed since the conflict broke out on May 23. The clash has also left 160 soldiers and policemen, including Juan, and 47 civilians dead.

Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the military’s Joint Task Group Ranao, yesterday said the military started bombarding the two structures last October 6, followed by ground assault.

“It was only yesterday (Tuesday) when they had the chance to recover cadavers when they attained their objective (of clearing the buildings,” he said.

Brawner said some of the bodies are already in the state of decomposition, and one was appeared to be that of a foreigner.

AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said Juan, who he said was to be married after the Marawi conflict ends, led the assault on the buildings in the past days.

Padilla said one of the two buildings has been used by the Maute to manufacture improvised explosive devices (IEDs). He said troops recovered dozens of IEDs there, together with two rocket-propelled grenades, four M16 rifles, an M4 rifle, an M14 rifle.

Padilla said personnel from the PNP-Scene of the Crime Operatives are helping the military in establishing the identities of the 22 cadavers -- 18 of them recovered in one building and the four others in another.

Padilla also said there is a possibility there is a “big fish” among the cadavers because “this has been the among the areas where they (enemy) offered very strong resistance.”

Padilla said there are about 150 buildings in the main battle area due for clearing. He said the structures are inside the battle zone which he said has a size of less than five hectares. There are 42 hostages being held by Maute remnants who number around 40.

President Duterte directed the military to always be prepared as he said Islamic State-inspired terrorist activities are expected to continue beyond 10 years.

“There will be violence everywhere... They (terrorists) will regroup anywhere and everywhere… and I’m warning you, the soldiers of the republic, what if they strike in five places at the same time? Zamboanga, maybe Basilan, Isabela,” Duterte said at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Scout Rangers Ville in San Miguel town in Bulacan.

He reiterated there will be no let-up in the Marawi operations “until the last terrorist is taken out.” He said he might even “purge” local government units as some local officials provided support to the terrorists. He said there were tunnels discovered in Marawi that were used by the terrorists to bring in some firearms and eventually take over the city, and no official reported it. – With Jocelyn Montemayor
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