4 hostages escape from Maute terrorists in Marawi

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2017 03:04 PM

MARAWI CITY - At least four more hostages of the Maute terror group managed to escape and were eventually rescued by the Philippine Navy Saturday.

The hostages said they fled in the middle of the night while their captors were sleeping and swam through the Lanao Lake for about a kilometer until they were spotted by navy patrol.

The hostages said they were held captive by the Maute group for more than two months inside Bato Mosque and served as cooks for the terrorists and other hostages.

"'Yung ibang Maute maganda trato sa amin, pero karamihan ginawa kaming hayop," one of the hostages said.

The hostages said Fr. Chito Suganob was still alive and was tasked to collect explosive powder from firecrackers that would be be used by the extremists for their improvised explosive devices.

"'Yung Picollo, pinatanggalan sa kanya ng pulbura. Sabi niya, 'masaya na ako kapag tumama ang bomba sa Masjid (mosque),'" one rescued hostage said.

Around 50 hostages, 20 of whom are women, remain in the hands of the Maute group. 

The rescued hostages said some of those women were raped by the terrorists and have probably become pregnant.

They said that while about 20 Maute members remain holed up in the mosque, some of them were already nursing wounds.

"May mga putol ang paa, putol ang kamay, may tama ng sniper," one rescued hostage said.

The hostages said they saw terror leader Omar Maute twice, but did not see Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in the terrorists' lair.

Photos of the two recently surfaced, including one showing Maute wounded. The military is verifying the authenticity of the images. 

The rescued hostages said the Maute group's food supply, mostly stocks of rice, and canned sardines and tuna, remain high. 

The hostages said they had no idea where the food supply came from as they were never allowed to leave the improvised kitchen area in the mosque.

The military neither confirmed nor denied earlier reports that around 10 Maute members have snuck into Marawi City to reinforce comrades battling state forces in the conflict zone.

Authorities earlier said fighting was confined to an area less than a square kilometer, and that between 50 to 70 Maute terrorists remain in the conflict zone. 

Since clashes erupted in May, 552 Maute fighters have been killed while 128 government troops have given up their lives. 

The long-drawn crisis in Marawi, once a bustling commercial and cultural hub, has driven out more than 200,000 residents from the city and thousands more from nearby areas.