The Joint Task Force Marawi on Wednesday announced that it successfully overran and took control of another strong point of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups (ASGs) in the “main battle area” in Marawi City.
Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, Joint Task Force Marawi commander, said overran on Tuesday was the Dansalan College, which is one of the strongholds of the joint Maute group and ASG.
Bautista described the school as host to some high rise structures that serve as machine gun nest and snipers’ vantage position of terror groups.
The Dansalan College is one of the establishments the Maute and ASG members have occupied and partially burned in the early part of the crisis.
The school is where the Maute brothers–Abdulla and Omar–had their earlier education.
The troops recovered caliber .50 heavy machinegun and 14 other high-powered firearms as they wrest control of the Dansalan College.
“Soldiers are gradually taking over terrorist-held structures as enemy strong points fall one by one to government forces,” the Joint Task Force Marawi said in a statement.
Bautista said the recovery of the high-powered firearms brought to 410 the total number of firearms recovered by operating troops in the clearing operations within the main battle area.
He said the troops also recovered a cadaver of a foreign looking individual and is believed that it is one of the reported fighters from Singapore.
A total of 11 suspected foreign fighters have been reportedly killed so far since the start of the fighting on May 23.
“It will just be a matter of time that our soldiers will fully liberate Marawi from terrorists and criminal gangs who brought mayhem to the city. We owe this to our Maranao brothers and sisters. Our soldiers fully know what is at stake and we will strive together to neutralize these criminals in order to bring peace and normalcy in Marawi,” Bautista said.
Meanwhile, a total of 1,717 trapped civilians have so far been rescued by government forces together with civilian counterparts.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, emphasized that the clearing operations put utmost consideration on the safety of trapped civilians.
It is believed that there are about 300 to 500 civilians still trapped in the conflict area. (Teofilo P. Garcia Jr./PNA)