Philippines: 42 terrorists’ bodies recovered in Marawi
24 Oct 2017 - 11:15
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines: Up to 42 bodies of terrorists, including two women and foreign fighters, were recovered Monday following the final assault on the besieged city of Marawi.
On Monday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana declared southern Mindanao island’s Marawi City free from all militants and the end of combat operations, five months since the conflict between the military and IS-linked groups erupted in the area.
“They were all fighting against our troops, so they were terrorists," said Lorenzana as quoted by Rappler.
"No more hostages. All the hostages were recovered a couple days back," he added.
The military maintained that the women who were killed were wives of terrorists who had chosen to fight alongside their husbands.
Though the body of Malaysian high-value terrorist Dr. Mahmud Bin Ahmad has not yet been identified, military chief General Eduardo Año said there was no way he could have escaped.
With the successful conclusion of “the most serious threat of violent extremism and radicalism in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia”, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government can now focus its efforts on the rebuilding of the city and the lives of its people.
The Philippine government has allocated an initial PHP5 billion ($97 million) for the rehabilitation of Marawi which would be spent until the end of the year, said Kristoffer James Purisima, Deputy Administrator for Administration of the Office of Civil Defense.
Purisima said the bulk of the budget will go to relief operations and other support provided to more than 72,000 families displaced by the conflict, according to the state-run Philippine News Agency.
He noted that the allocation includes funds to build at least 1,100 transitional shelters within the year.
Over 300,000 residents of Marawi fled the city when the IS-linked Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups launched an attack on May 23 which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place all of the southern Philippines’ Mindanao islands under martial law which is not set to expire until the year’s end.
The five-month conflict has claimed over 1,100 lives, mostly militants.