The Daily Manila Shimbun


Troops retake Grand Mosque in Marawi 

August 25, 2017

MARAWI CITY — Government security forces have recaptured the Grand Mosque after three months being occupied by Islamic State-inspired militants, a military spokesperson said Friday.

Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Joint Task Force Marawi and Western Mindanao Command, said the Maute-Abu Sayyaf Group resisted strongly before troops regained control of the  Grand Mosque.

Petinglay said three soldiers were wounded due to explosions from homemade bombs.

Petinglay dismissed speculations Omar and Abdullah Maute and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon escaped. She said they are still inside Marawi along with their hostages.

“There are still less than 400 buildings and structures that we need to clear. They might be hiding in one of these buildings,” Petinglay said.

Petinglay said government forces have regained control of the police station located in the center of this city.

Previous reports indicated ranking leaders of the Maute group were among those who hid at the mosque with their hostages, including Fr. Chito Suganob, vicar general of Marawi City.

The military cleared 38 buildings on Tuesday and Wednesday, and about less than 400 more have yet to be cleared before the government could regain full control of the city.

Since May 23,  at least 129 troops had been reported killed along with 583 Abu Sayyaf and Maute gunmen since hostilities broke out.

Forty-five civilians died, while more than 1,728 others were rescued from the battle zone.

On Thursday afternoon,  nearly three weeks after his second visit, President Rodrigo Duterte visited troops of the Joint Special Operations Task Force.

Duterte said being with the soldiers on the ground is one of his utmost concerns.

“I will be happy to die for my country. I need to be with you to show my solidarity,” Duterte said. DMS