ZAMBOANGA CITY — The military on Monday presented four more rescued hostages as government troops continue to close in on the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute group in Marawi City.
In a phone interview, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, confirmed the troops rescued the four several days ago at the main battle area in the besieged city of Marawi.
Galvez said they withheld the announcement of rescue of the four hostages so as not to jeopardize the operation.
Galvez revealed that one of the rescued victims is a teacher named Lordvin Acopio. The teacher was rescued together with Father Teresito Suganob on September 16.
The three others who were rescued in the succeeding days were identified as Abdul Naser Ergas Mangondaya; Hadji Abdulah Necson Rakim Anunto; and, Kiram Dato Amkula Ampatoa.
The military earlier said that there are still around 50 hostages who are still in the hands of the Maute group.
Galvez said they will try to liberate Marawi City and end the crisis in few weeks time.
“The gun battle has been reduced and contained in the 10-hectare area of downtown Marawi,” he said.
To date, a total of 1,734 people have been rescued by the government forces and other government agencies since the siege began on May 23.
The crisis in Marawi City has been running for almost four months already after the ISIS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups attacked the country’s lone Islamic City.
More than 600 terrorists and almost 200 soldiers and policemen have been killed since the fighting started.
The armed conflict has triggered humanitarian crisis as more than 300,000 individuals are staying in evacuation centers in the cities and municipalities in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte provinces.
Galvez said they are relentless in their operations in running after the remaining leaders of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf who are still hiding in Marawi City. Darwin Wally Wee/PNA-northboundasia.com