Maute Group still holding “between 40 to 60” hostages

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 08 October) — The military has received new information that the IS-inspired Maute gunmen are holding more hostages than previously thought.

Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao said information from the 17 hostages rescued by soldiers last Oct. 4 revealed that the gunmen are still holding “between 40 to 60”  hostages, not 23 as earlier thought.

Brawner said the new information came from the hostages who are undergoing tactical interrogation inside the military camp.

“The hostages told us there are 40 more left behind. The number was higher than we thought,” he said.

Brawner said the rescued hostages also told Army investigators that there are still around  “38 to 48” Maute gunmen fighting government forces.

Air Force warplanes continue to drop bombs without let-up.

Brawner explained the bombs are intended to soften the defenses of the terrorists and not intended to harm the hostages.

He said soldiers are holding their punches against the gunmen for fear of harming the hostages.

“Our order on the hostages still stands. The safety of the hostages is of primary importance,” Brawner said.

Another soldier was killed on Sunday bringing the number of soldiers killed fighting the terrorists in Marawi to 158.

Last Saturday or Day 138 of the Marawi fighting, the military said they have killed 770 terrorists and seized 808 high-powered firearms since the fighting began last May 23.

The military announced several deadlines but have extended these several times because of the stiff resistance from the terrorists. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)