By FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD
An additional 17 hostages were rescued from the main battle area inside Marawi City.
According to AFP Joint Task Group Ranao deputy commander Col. Romeo Brawner, the hostages include several children.
“Halo halo ito, may lalaki, babae, mga bata,” he said in a phone interview. “Pero wala pa akong breakdown kung ilan ang lalaki at babae.”
Brawner admitted some of the hostages were wounded in the course of the operation.
“Ginagamot na sila,” he said. “Dinala na sila sa safe zone and are undergoing medical examination. They will also undergo debriefing.”
Asked about the status of the ongoing battle, Brawner said, “Two hectares na lang natira.”
“Sa number of hostages naman, there are more or less 40 remaining but we are still verifying this number,” he added.
In the same interview, Brawner reported the death toll on the government’s side has reached 162, with some 20 soldiers added to the list of the wounded.
He also revealed some 822 have been killed on the side of the terrorist since the siege started last May.
Meanwhile, Malacañang, citing reports from the Department of National Defense, confirmed yesterday the death of terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.