MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military rescued 17 more hostages in Marawi City in a decisive operation that also killed the top leaders behind the siege.
"Our troops have rescued 17 civilian hostages and mopping up operations are underway," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday, October 16.
These developments signal that the nearly 5-month-long war is nearing its end. Lorenzana said military operations will continue to clear the battle zone.
Blurred photos were released of children hostaged by armed groups that pleged allegiance to international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS).
The military has rescued rescued at least 40 hostages. One hostage was rescued over the weekend, following a big batch of 17 on October 5.
The hostages were made to serve their captors. Acopio said he was treating wounded Maute fighters inside the battle zone. (READ: Life of a Maute hostage in Marawi)
Heavy fighting resumed in Marawi on Saturday, October 14, as troops pushed for a decisive assault to end the war. The military suffered heavy casualties. Sources confirmed soldiers were killed in the operation, but the military has yet to confirm this.
Past midnight on Monday, Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute of the family-led Maute Group were killed in the clashes. Lorenzana said their bodies were retrieved, confirming photos that circulated Monday morning.
The war has displaced about 400,000 residents of Marawi City and nearby towns. – Rappler.com