Troops ‘closing in’ on extremists’ positions

MARAWI CITY -- Military and police forces are “closing in” on positions occupied by Islamic State-inspired extremists in Marawi City, an army official said.

Army Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr., Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Group Ranao, said Thursday morning, October 12, that as of October 10, the number of extremists killed has increased to 811.

The government has suffered 160 dead while civilian deaths number 47.

In an interview on Wednesday, October 11, Brawner said 22 bodies were recovered by troops on Monday, October 9 and another five were recovered the following day.

These bodies were recovered from several buildings and structures inside the main battle area which the militants were using as their forward defensive position.

“The five dead bodies were recovered yesterday while the MDM sub-committee is finishing their retrieval of the 22 others,” Brawner said.

Danilo Capin, owner of Capin Funeral Homes which stores the dead bodies while the remains are being processed by the Philippine National Police-Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco), said the Soco’s medico legal will arrive Friday, October 13, to start with the forensic examination aimed at determining the identities of the cadavers.

The military is also interested to know if high-profile terrorists and foreign fighters are among the dead bodies.

“Didto na dad-on ang mga patay sa Maqbara, didto na i-process. Dili na dad-on sa atong morgue sa Iligan kay baho naman gud kaayo. Mireklamo na akong mga silingan (The dead will be brought and processed in Maqbara instead of our morgue in Iligan because it’s smelly there. My neighbors already complained),” Capin said.

He, however, said the burial of the bodies will depend on the advise they get from the Provincial Crisis Management Committee of Lanao del Sur.

Among those killed recently is a junior officer in the Army’s Special Forces, First Lieutenant Harold Mark Juan, who was killed by an enemy sniper while leading an assault on Monday.