Last stand: Wives fight with holdouts
THE remnants of the Maute terrorists have been cornered in a building in Marawi City and are no longer holding any hostages, the military said Sunday.
In a press conference, Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Joint Task Group Ranao, said those left in the building were wives of the terrorists who chose to fight with their husbands.
“We believe there are no more hostages,” Brawner said in Filipino. “The latest number of hostages we rescued is 20... We believe that those who are inside that building have chosen to stay with their husbands.”
“We gave them all the chances to surrender,” he added, noting that some gave up and would be treated as non-combatants and be debriefed.
Earlier, the Free Malaysia Today news website reported that suspected Malaysian militant Mohd Amin Baco, said to be the leader of the remaining terrorists holed up in Marawi, has been cornered in a building by government troops.
Amin, who comes from Sabah, was reported to have been a member of the outlawed Darul Islam Sabah group in the state’s coastal district of Tawau before he left to join the Abu Sayyaf terror group in Mindanao some years back.
The military said it was continuing its mopping up operations to rid the city of terrorists by Sunday.
In an interview on radio dzBB, Armed Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said they were still looking for Bacu, but added that he had little influence on what would happen in Marawi because he was cornered.
Padilla also said that martial law as still needed until the end of the year, despite the deaths of top terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon, Omar Maute and Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad.
He said the military would do its best to address the remaining terrorist networks by then.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that martial law in Mindanao would not be lifted until the government has neutralized all terrorists in the region.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 after the Islamic State-inspired Maute group overran Marawi City.
When the 60-day period had elapsed, Duterte sought and was granted an extension by Congress until Dec. 31.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri agreed that martial law should continue until the end of the year to ensure the safety of residents returning to the city during its reconstruction and rehabilitation.