AT LEAST 22 bodies of terrorists, including one that looked like a foreigner—were pulled out from a bomb-making shelter of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group shortly after government troops overran enemy positions in the ruins of the main battle zone in Marawi City.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the decomposing bodies were found in two commercial establishments adjacent to a bridge leading to Lake Lanao that government troops had assaulted and liberated. Dozens of improvised bombs were seized.
Padilla said police scene-of-the-crime operatives were identifying the bodies through DNA testing.
He said 18 of the bodies were found in one building, while the four others were pulled from another one.
Padilla said they hoped there were “big fish” among them. None of the cadavers recovered were of women and children, he said.
Soldiers also found two RPGs, two M-16s, one M-4 and one M-14 and “dozens and dozens” of explosive devices, Padilla said.
He said the terrorists fired on soldiers as the closed in on the two buildings.
“So this must have been the place where these rebels have been manufacturing the IEDs that have been used in the remaining areas of enemy-held territories,” he said.
“We think they were defending these because they were using the buildings as manufacturing areas for their IEDs,” Padilla added.
The death toll from the terrorist side has reached to 802 while 160 soldiers and police have been killed in nearly five months of fighting.
An Army lieutenant was killed in the fierce battle with the terrorists over the two buildings.
Padilla said the young army officer, whose identity was temporarily withheld, was planning to get married after the Marawi crisis was over.
Padilla said the government offensive has left enemies with only less than five hectares to move around. He said soldiers have yet to clear 150 buildings.
He said accounts from the rescued hostages validated reports that the number of enemies still in Marawi was about 40, with many of them wounded.
Padilla said the terrorists were still holding 42 hostages and “quite a number of them are children.”
Also on Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would purge local government officials of Marawi City for their failure to warn the national government about the conditions before the Maute group overran the city.
In a speech during the groundbreaking of a government housing program for soldiers, Duterte said that the deaths of hundreds of government troopers during the first days of the Marawi siege which started May would have been averted if local officials had done something.
The terrorists took over buildings and fortified them so that the first responders, the Marines, took heavy casualties, the President said.
“They were in position and we didn’t know that. That’s what I blame the local officials for. I think I have to purge them. Nobody told us there were tunnels like those used by the Viet Cong,” he added.
He also warned that terrorism inspired by the Islamic State would continue.
“You know, be patient. This terrorism inspired by ISIS will not go in about seven to 10 years. There will be violence everywhere,” he said.