ISIS-linked militants in Marawi abandoning firearms, blending in with evacuees to escape
Members of the ISIL-linked Maute terror group began abandoning their firearms and blending in with civilian evacuees to get out of Marawi City amid the ongoing operation there by government forces, a military official said Thursday.
“As their bailiwick native land, the terrorists are knowledgeable of the terrain here in Marawi City. They are also using that advantage to slip out of the area to escape,” Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson for Joint Task Force Marawi, said in a statement, GMA Network reported.
Government security forces have arrested several alleged high-profile members of the Maute group, including Cayamora and Farjana Maute, parents of Abdullah and Omar, leaders of the group, as well as the brothers’ other siblings.
Amid this, Herrera assured the public that government troops are doing everything to track down members of the group who were able to flee Marawi City.
“The authorities assure that with the combined strength of the security forces and other government agencies, these terrorists have nowhere to hide,” he said.
Sporadic clashes have been ongoing in Marawi City since May 23 after the Maute group attacked the city, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to put the entire Mindanao under martial law.
Brig. Gen. Ramiro Manuel Rey, commander of Task Force Ranao, said improvised explosive devices planted by the group are delaying the clearing operations being conducted by government troops.
“The Maute terrorists are pushed back in a corner due to the AFP’s continuous effort. But they are using IEDs to block the government troops,” he said.
He added that Maute group members are using hostages as human shields and slaves to gain grounds.
“Hostages were even forced to place LPG tanks with fuel as IEDs against the AFP troops,” he said. “The cause of the fire eruptions inside ground zero was caused by LPG tanks strapped with fuel and is detonated as troops continue to gain ground.”
Herrera said Maute members still resisting government forces in Marawi have dwindled to a little over a hundred.
“According to the information we are getting from the ground troops operating in the area, there are more or less 100 members of Maute terrorist group left after one month battle here in Marawi,” he said.
As of 6 p.m., June 21, a total of 276 Maute terrorists have been killed while 271 firearms have been recovered. On the government side, 67 have been killed in action while 461 were wounded.
A total of 26 civilians have also been killed while 1,658 have been rescued due to the conflict.