Troops retrieve remains of civilians allegedly executed in Marawi

MANILA, Philippines – The military on Thursday, July 13, retrieved the skeletal remains of civilians believed to have been executed by homegrown terrorist groups in the early weeks of the clashes in Marawi City.

"The skeletal remains are believed to be that of 6 individuals whom the Maute/ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) executed in the early part of the crisis as shown on the video released by them and posted on the internet," the military said in a statement on Thursday.

The skeletal remains washed out by weeks of rain were found along with orange shirts, matching the clothes of civilians executed by the terrorists in a video that previously circulated on social media.

The military said the location also matched. The remains were found in a grassy area near a cemented pavement.

"This brutal and inhuman actions of the Maute/ASG will not go unpunished. Our soldiers will do everything in their power to bring these terrorists to justice. We owe this to the victims, we owe this to our people," said Joint Task Force Marawi ground commander Brigadier General Rolando Baustista.

It's now the 8th week of clashes in Marawi City, which had prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao.

The discovery of the remains puts the total number of slain civilians at 45 as of Thursday. Around 400 terrorists and 92 soldiers have also been killed, including two soldiers who died in a military air strike on Wednesday, July 12.

Both the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group, responsible for the crisis in Marawi City, have a record of executing civilians. 

The Maute Group beheaded Christian sawmill workers in April 2016, while the Abu Sayyaf has a long record of beheading hostages who fail to pay ransom. 

Local officials in Marawi City had said about a hundred civilians are believed to have been killed inside the battle zone.

The government has missed self-imposed deadlines to end the crisis, though Duterte said last Tuesday, July 11, that he sees it ending in around two weeks. –