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Fleeing Maute men executed, says AFP

By ALI MACABALANG

Trapped and surrounded by thousands of government troops, Maute terrorists wishing to flee war-torn Marawi City are being executed by their leaders, according to the military.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command, said some Maute deserters have been shot dead.

“According to (Maute members) we captured, they were fired upon when they tried to escape and we have heard that they have already executed some of the Maute members that are really trying to escape,” Galvez told reporters.

Galvez’s statement was echoed by Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman of the Joint Task Force Marawi.

“They’ve (Maute) executed their own members, iyon ang manifestation ng crumbling leadership. Sila sila na ang nagpapatayan,” said Herrera in a press briefing yesterday. “Yung mga gustong tumakas na members nila, pinapatay nila.”

Five weeks into the conflict that displaced 200,000 and killed close to 300, the Maute leadership is reportedly wracked by division and dissension.

At Camp Aguinaldo, Col. Edgar Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said they are validating reports that terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon has deserted his companions.

Arevalo vowed that the AFP will go after Hapilon if he has left Marawi.

The AFP spokesman said there are about 150 to 200 civilians trapped in the battle zone, adding terrorists have started executing their hostages.

Herrera said troops have cleared 85 buildings.

“Troop morale remains very high, the AFP is winning and that victory is irreversible,” he said.

Herrera said terrorists have resorted to burning houses as a form of blockade and to impede troop movement.

Meanwhile, six Christians, including a two-year old girl, were rescued while one body of an elderly Muslim was retrieved during the eight-hour humanitarian pause Sunday.

Rescuers, mostly religious personalities volunteering under the “peace corridor” of the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, rescued the two-year girl, her mother and three male adults at ground zero before the truce ended at 2 p.m.

The unnamed survivors were turned over to govern troops escorting the quick rescue mission. They reportedly told the security forces how they survived in a house where some of the militants holed out.

The woman said she had given birth to another child just two weeks ago in the middle of the fighting, but her infant boy died because of lack of food, according to police who interviewed her.

A video released by the military showed the rescued residents looking terrified, pale and haggard.

Facebook netizen Prince Tomawis, who joined the brief rescue mission, said the body of 72-year old Hassan B. Ali was retrieved.

“We had him buried immediately in his hometown of Madalum, Lanao Sur,” Tomawis said.

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