Maute terrorists still control key Marawi City bridges

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2017 12:11 AM | Updated as of May 31 2017 03:48 PM

MARAWI CITY - The Mapandi Bridge that leads to the center of Marawi City remained in the control of the Maute group on Tuesday, and an ISIS flag remains there a week after the terrorists laid siege on the city.

A week after the attack on Marawi City, journalists returned to the Mapandi Bridge to see if has since been retaken by the government.

However, a black flag can still be seen flying in front of the bridge.

Not long after, the Maute group snipers made their presence felt. Gunfire from the other end of the bridge sent the message that they weren't backing down.

The Marines answered with their own, firing at known sniping positions to provide cover to the withdrawing group.

The situation remains the same on the other side of the city, with the Maute group still defending the Bayabao bridge.

The Mapandi and Bayabao bridges are two of the three bridges leading to the center of Marawi, which means the heart of the city is still under terrorist control.

Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera of the 1st Infantry Division said the bridges had already been breached, meaning they had rid the bridge of obstacles or improvised explosive devices.

But the Mapandi Bridge that ABS-CBN News saw did not look breached at all. Aside from the black flag, vehicles and roadblocks were still there on the bridge.

Meanwhile, a video showing an elderly man standing in a street filled with rubble circulated over social media.

The man was making an appeal to the government.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) confirmed that the man on the video was Fr. Chito Suganob, the priest held hostage by the Maute group on the first day of their attack.

In the video, Fr. Chito asked the military to stop airstrikes and to pull out of the province of Lanao del Sur.

At least 21 soldiers have died in the week-long battle, with 72 more wounded.

In just two days of searching houses, the Marines recovered 18 high-powered firearms, along with uniforms of the police and military, and black flags.

The Marines also confirmed that they killed eight terrorists all in one day.

The Palace on Tuesday said the death toll in the crisis in Marawi City has risen to 104

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the number of terrorists killed rose by 4 to 65 as of May 29. 

He said 42 of the terrorist deaths were confirmed by body count while the remaining 23 were verified through eyewitness accounts.

The number of government casualties, on the other hand, remains at 20, with 17 coming from the Armed Forces and 3 from the Philippine National Police. - with a report from Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News