MILITARY troops have found the remains of 22 Maute fighters in two establishments inside the commercial district of Marawi City, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Wednesday.
Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., the AFP spokesman, said the buildings were previously used by the Islamic State-linked Maute terrorists as “factories” in making improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Eighteen bodies were found in one building alone, he said. One of the 22 was likely a foreigner although this was still being verified, Padilla said.
The buildings were taken over by state forces after a few days of fighting, he said.
“We are sure that these cadavers were enemies…that place was where the gunshots and resistance were all coming from,” Padilla told reporters in a news conference.
Government forces also recovered two rocket-propelled grenades, four M16 rifles, an M4 and an M14.
As of the latest military count, at least 802 Maute terrorists have been killed in the Marawi war, and a total of 827 firearms were seized. Fighting has also claimed the lives of 160 soldiers and policemen.
Based on the estimates of ground commanders, particularly from the Joint Task Force Marawi, some 150 establishments still needed to be cleared by the troops within a five-hectare area of Marawi City.
About 40 Maute members remain in the battle zone, Padilla said.
“Most of them were already wounded based on the hostages’ accounts. Another thing is that we are very careful in entering buildings or establishments since there was confirmation that there are still hostages, including children, present inside,” Padilla said.
Military figures showed that about 1,750 hostages have been rescued by the military, including the 17 hostages rescued last week as well as two—Fr. Teresito Soganub and Lordvin Acopio—in September.
Urban warfare challenge
The Philippine Marine Corps admitted on Wednesday urban warfare became a challenge for the Marines deployed in Marawi City, and was a “new concept” for them.
Brig. Gen. Alvin Parreño, commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps, made the admission following the closing ceremony of the Kamandag exercises held with the United States Marine Corps.
The exercises included urban warfare training.
“This was somehow challenging because this is a new concept on us. However, we were able to learn, we will be able to adapt and then we anticipate the movement of the enemy and those are the important things,” Parreño told reporters.