MANILA, Philippines – Up to 42 bodies were retrieved after the final assault in Marawi City, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. (READ: Marawi combat operations over – Lorenzana)
The military maintained they were all Maute Group terrorists because all hostages have been rescued. The bodies also included two wives of terrorists.
"Forty-two cadavers were recovered. They were all fighting against our troops so they were terrorists," said Lorenzana.
"No more hostages. All the hostages have been recovered a couple of days back," he added.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año said the final battle was at a mosque near Lake Lanao.
"That is also the place where we rescued additional hostages. In that fighting, we gave a chance for these militants and terrorists to surrender. But they fought to the last breath," said Año.
Among those retrieved were the remains of foreign terrorists who survived the October 16 assault that killed siege leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
But the military has yet to determine if top Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad was among the bodies retrieved. Año said there was no way the enemy could have escaped.
"It is immaterial [to find his body] because he is dead already," said the AFP chief.
Mopping-up operations continued after President Rodrigo Duterte declared on October 17 the "liberation" of Marawi City from "terrorist influence." Two more soldiers were killed since, bringing the total death toll on the government side to 165. – Rappler.com