MILITARY troops in Marawi City recovered from underwater of Lake Lanao 30 assorted firearms believed thrown there by members of the Islamic State-linked Maute group as they escaped from the main battle area, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Monday.
Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., Task Group Ranao deputy commander, said waterborne personnel from different military units conducted search and clearing operations on Sunday at the Lanao Lake area fronting one of the buildings in Barangay Marinaut that served as the last stand of the terrorists.
It is believed that the terrorists, during the last hours of the firefight when they smelled defeat and when they were about to make their final escape, threw their weapons into the lake,” he said in a statement.
Brawner added the search and clearing operations over Lake Lanao will continue.
The firearms were recovered 26 days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi City liberated from the terrorists holed up there.
Brig. Gen. Roseller Murillo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said the recovered firearms were a caliber 50 machine gun, three M60 machine guns, 12 M14 rifles, four caliber 50 sniper rifles, two AK 47 rifles, two carbine rifles, three FAL rifles and one M79 rifle and two M16 rifles.
“The recovered armaments are now in our custody while proper documentation and labelling are being undertaken by our troops,” he said in a separate statement.
The five-month Marawi siege claimed more than 1,000 lives – 165 soldiers, 47 civilians, 974 Maute terrorists.
In October, military troopers killed the two top Maute leaders – Islamic State’s Southeast Asian “emir” Isnilon Hapilon and Maute group founder Omarkhayam Maute – during predawn operations.
with JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL