THE Maute terrorist group is still holding at least 40 hostages in war-torn Marawi City, a military spokesman said Friday.
Maj.Gen. Restituto Padilla said the information on the 40 hostages was based on the accounts of the 17 hostages who were rescued by government troops. Of the total, nine were men and eight were women.
“Based on the debriefing that was conducted on the rescued hostages, they have passed the information to us that there are still 40 hostages in the area, along with 40 to 50 armed members of the [Maute] terrorist group,” Padilla said in a news conference.
“This [information]becomes a very important factor in planning our final push [of military operations]in areas held by the terror group. This is the reason why we are not saying a timeline on when our operations should end because there are still hostages [to be rescued],” Padilla added.
Likewise, Padilla maintained that the lifting of martial law in Mindanao before its effectivity expired on December 31 was unlikely even after the military cleared the Islamic City of Marawi of Maute terrorists and their supporters because of threats in other parts of Mindanao.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law and in Mindanao on May 23 to suppress a rebellion by the Islamist extremists who were bidding to form an independent state. In a joint session in July, Congress extended the implementation of martial law until yearend. LLANESCA T. PANTI