Padilla: 30 ‘stragglers’ still in Marawi City
There were only about 30 terrorists, including six to eight foreigners, battling against government forces in Marawi City, a military official disclosed on Tuesday.
This information was revealed minutes before President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration that Marawi City has now been liberated from terrorists.
On Monday, authorities confirmed the death of radical leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, who led the so-called Marawi siege last May 23.
“There (is also) still in existence about 20 to 30 armed elements, stragglers if you may call them of the groups,” said Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Among the foreigners fighting in Marawi City included Malaysian terrorist Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, believed to be the financier of the Marawi siege.
“Dr. Mahmud remains to be one of our high-value targets in the operations still being conducted,” Padilla said.
Also on Monday, the military validated the rescue of 17 hostages. Padilla said the number of remaining captives was estimated at 20, including women and children.
“Our troops have remained in the battle area continuing to pursue the armed elements and seeking to rescue the remaining hostages in about two hectares of space that remains to be the battle area,” he said.
Padilla said there are about 60 to 80 buildings still to be cleared by government troops.
“And before we can finally announce the end of the Marawi siege, there is a need to clear all these buildings of all unexploded ordnance as well as IEDs that may have been left by these retreating terrorists,” he said.
“It is also paramount that as we come to the closure of this significant event in our history, that we be allowed still time to clear the rest of Marawi of all potential IEDs, unexploded ordnance and booby traps that may have been missed by the troops in its earlier clearing operations,” he added.
The military official appealed to the public for patience.
“So please be patient. We ask for our citizens to understand the predicaments that we still face. But rest assured that our soldiers, our airmen, our sailors, our marines, and our policeman and coastguards men who continue to be in this fight are determined and focused to finish it as soon as possible,” Padilla said.
Padilla then called on Filipinos “to please push for the practice of cooperative responsibility or shared responsibility in security.”
As of October 16, the military said that 847 enemies have died while 163 soldiers were killed in the Marawi City conflict. /kga
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