AT LEAST 10 Maute terrorists are still occupying five buildings in Marawi City, a military official said on Sunday, October 22.
Among them is Malaysian terrorist Amin Bacu, who is reportedly leading the group, and two other foreign fighters, said military spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla.
"Si Bacu po ang hinahanap natin pero hindi na ito factor dahil wala na silang impluwensiya sa kabuuan ng mga nangyayari diyan, cornered na po kasi sila. So, si Bacu po ang isa doon at sa impormasyong aming nakuha, mga dalawa pang dayuhang terorista ang naiiwan doon sa kabuuang grupo (The group has been cornered. We have information that Bacu and two other foreign terrorists are with the remaining group)," he said.
Padilla said they have not been able to establish the exact number of local fighters. But they are believed to be holding at least 10 hostages.
"'Yung local terrorist po hindi natin makuha ang angkop na bilang dahil kada nare-rescue natin na mga hostages nagkakaiba iba ang bilang na nabibigay... ang kanilang estimate ay nasa 10 pa o mahigit (The hostages we have rescued gave different accounts. But the estimate is there are still 10 or more terrorists)," he added.
Padilla said Bacu arrived in the Philippines through the back door in 2010. He allegedly took the lead after the death of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute last Monday, October 16.
READ: Hapilon, Maute to be buried according to Muslim rites
Another Malaysian terrorist, Dr. Mahmud bin Ahmad, was also believed to have been killed in Marawi last Thursday, October 19.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi "liberated from the terrorists" following the death of Hapilon and Maute, but the military has continued its clearing operations to neutralize the remaining fighters and rescue at least 10 hostages.
READ: Army troopers left Marawi on Friday morning
"Sinisikap natin talagang matapos na... at sa aming nakuhang ulat galing sa ating mga kasamahan sa main battle area, mga limang gusali pa ang pinagtutuunan ng pansin," said Padilla.
"Pasensyahan niyo lang po at kinakailangan nating suyurin pa ng mabuti itong mga natitirang lugar na 'to dahil nga sa nabanggit nga nating naiiwang pang kalaban gayundin ang mga hostages na sinisikap pa rin nating masagip," he added.
Meanwhile, Padilla reiterated that martial law could not be lifted yet to prevent Maute supporters from launching retaliatory attacks and ensure the speedy recovery and rehabilitation of the war-torn city.
Duterte placed the entire Mindanao region under a 60-day martial law on May 23, several hours after fighting broke out between the government troops and Hapilon's group aided by the Maute terrorists.
Martial law was extended by Congress until the end of this year.
As of October 19, a total of 897 Maute bandits, 47 civilians and 164 government troops have been killed in the Marawi siege while 1,777 civilians hostages have been rescued. (SunStar Philippines)