Authorities prepare for anticipated retrieval operations in Marawi City
MARAWI CITY – Local government officials expect to recover more than 500 bodies and skeletal remains of civilians and pro-Islamic State (IS) terrorists, who were killed in the months-long conflict in this war-torn city.
“It could be more, but it doesn’t mean the figures I gave are the actual number of cadavers inside,” Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesman of provincial crisis management committee, told the Inquirer.
Adiong said they already conducted simulation trainings among volunteers and village officials for the anticipated retrieval operations.
“Our volunteers, along with our disaster teams, will work hand in hand with police and military in retrieval operations once the fighting stops,” he said.
The military earlier reported that 822 terrorists and 47 civilians were killed in the fighting.
As of Monday, the death toll on the government side has reached 163 while more than 1,700 soldiers were wounded.
The provincial government had buried previously recovered 147 bodies and skeletal remains in a mass grave in the village of Mapandayan.
Meanwhile, exchange of gunfires between military and pro-IS fighters, and mortar blasts in the main battle area can still be heard despite the reported deaths of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute – the leaders of the so-called Marawi siege.
Hapilon, was the acknowledged head of the purported IS in Mindanao who is on the list of most wanted terrorists by the United States while Omar Maute, was one of the leaders behind the Maute Terrorist Group.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that with the death of Hapilon and Maute, the government may soon be able to announce the termination of hostilities in this city.
Lorenzana emphasized, however, that government forces would still have to make sure that that there are no more terrorists in the areas and all structures have been cleared of bombs and booby traps.
But Adiong said they understand why the fighting was taking long.
“We are pinning our hopes on the military to fully recover the city. We do understand why it is dragging because the lives of our troops and hostages are at stake here,” Adiong said. /kga
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