MANILA - Ten more hostages were rescued from strife-torn Marawi as the military gets closer to fully recapturing the city from Islamic State-inspired terrorists, the military said Friday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla Jr. said the hostages were rescued on Thursday, citing information from Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr.
Padilla said apart from the 10 rescued hostages, 11 others were being screened to determine if they were indeed civilians and not members of the Maute terror group.
“With the number of hostages rescued in the last 24 hours, we look forward to getting the rest of the hostages that still remain and addressing the armed threat that still exists. We pray that this will happen today or the following day,” Padilla said in a news conference in Malacañang.
“We are giving it our best and we are doing all that we can to end the hostilities in Marawi.”
Padilla said the military is also checking if another prominent terrorist leader, commander Amin Bako, is still alive.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this week declared that Marawi has been liberated from the influence of Islamic State-inspired terrorists following the killing of their leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
Another terror leader, Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad, was also believed to have been killed in a military assault Wednesday evening. Prior to his death, Mahmud was touted as the successor of Hapilon, who was considered the “emir” of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.
Padilla said efforts are underway to recover the remains of Ahmad and other slain terrorists as state troops make their way towards the half-kilometer hectare battle area.
He said a soldier was killed and three others were wounded Thursday in one of the military operations in the city.
At least 1,108 people, mostly terrorists, have died since clashes erupted in the city on May 23. At least 400,000 residents in Marawi City and nearby towns were also forced to evacuate.
The siege prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial law. In a speech on Thursday, the President said he would only lift martial law once the last terrorist in Mindanao has been taken out, a declaration welcomed by the AFP.
The impending recapture of Marawi City by state forces will mark another big blow to the Islamic State, which had been seeking to establish a new front in Southeast Asia amid heavy losses in the Middle East.