From GMA News (Jun 26): Military says 100-120 Maute members remain in Marawi
Only around 120 members of the ISIS-inspired Maute group remain holed up in four barangays in Marawi City, as government security forces continue to weaken their strongholds, the military said Monday.
"The remaining Maute will be around 100 to 120, not to exceed 120, and the remaining portions of the barangays to be cleared are down to four," Armed Forces Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said at a news conference.
On the other hand, Arevalo said around 150 to 200 hostages remain in captivity while at least 27 have been killed in the ongoing firefight.
"The remaining civilian hostages trapped per our estimate is around 150 to 200, including those who are trapped in the firefight," he said.
Arevalo said the military is still validating reports that Maute members beheaded some of their hostages, as well as determining the whereabouts of abducted Catholic priest Fr. Chito Suganob.
Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera said Suganob has been seen alive. Suganob was abducted by the Maute group during the early days of the Marawi siege.
Hapilon not seen by hostages
Meanwhile, Arevalo said hostages rescued by the military informed them that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon has not been seen in the past few days.
"We have received [information] from those whom we have rescued that they have not seen Isnilon Hapilon in areas where they were once held hostage. They have not been hearing him or about him in the past few days," he said.
He noted that this was the AFP's basis in saying that Hapilon may have fled Marawi City.
Arevalo, nonetheless, said the testimonies of the rescued hostages are being validated.
"Why not believe them if they are the ones who were actually able to stay in the location, able to see, and observe and hear kung ano yung [happening] dun sa lugar na kinaroroonan ng mga kalaban?" Arevalo said.
Arevalo added that Hapilon's absence in the conflict zone may have sparked a leadership dispute within the Maute group.
"Isnilon Hapilon is part of their leadership so there infighting within their ranks, not only with their leadership, but also about the command and control of their group," he said.