PICS: Philstar and Inquirer.net
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It may not be the final victory for the government forces but is just another important milestone. That is because the painful job of eliminating the terrorists from heavily fortified buildings in Marawi City is a daunting task. Moreover, in such situations, you cannot pinpoint precisely as to when a goal is accomplished.
It is now a closely fought guerrilla warfare involving the nooks and corners of the concrete jungle called Marawi City. So well ensconced are the Maute invaders in their hideouts that loss of life is inevitable in flushing out operations.
On Saturday night, the security forces rescued Fr. Teresito “Chito” Soganub, the Vicar General of Marawi City. The troops rescued along with another hostage as per Jesus Dureza, Presidential Advisor for the peace process.
He quoted a facebook post by former Iligan City Mayor Franklin Quijano as the source of information.
Rear Adm. Rene Medina, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (Navforwem), also corroborated the news. In fact, Soganub and Acopio, the other hostage, had escaped their captors before the troops picked them up.
The hostages took advantage of the intense fighting that erupted around Bato Ali mosque on Saturday evening.
Enemy command center
Maute and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) are diehard Islamists who never compromise in their ideals. Besides, they are trying to establish Islamic strongholds in the Philippines due to reverses elsewhere.
The Islamic State being the strongest among the Islamic terror groups worldwide. Smaller hardcore terrorist groups idolize Islamic State and play up to it. However, such groups are only a handful.
Besides, the Muslim world is also progressing and realizing the benefits of peace. Moderates among them are openly issuing fatwas against those who are adopting excessive violence.
Bato Ali mosque’s sanitization was vital to impact the terrorists since it served as a nerve center for the terrorists. This was where the coordinators operated from. Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the public affairs office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines hinted that rescue efforts continued.
The army authorities maintained a guarded silence neither confirming nor denying anything. Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. didn’t confirm even the rescue details of Soganub and Acopio.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella informed that even the Presidential Palace was not confirming anything.
Moreover, the army requested all officials including Malacanang to maintain a stoic silence for some time. But, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ announced the news and relatives went into celebration mode.
The troops regained the building of the Jamaitul Islamia Marawi Foundation (JIMF) building after the fighting. Gen. Eduardo Año, AFP chief of staff, described the intense fighting which continued for nearly 6 hours.
The terrorists had used the previous weeks to occupy strategic locations hence it was difficult to dislodge them. The capture of the Jamaitul Islamia Marawi Foundation (JIMF) building and the Bato Ali mosque disoriented the terror network.
This will deny them their command center though fierce fighting will continue for some weeks at least, Ano said. It is a matter of time, the fighting will be intense but we will win back the whole city.
The terrorists, knowing that there was only outcome, their death; hence, they were fighting with determination and desperation. Col. Romeo Brawner, Dy. Commander of the government taskforce, revealed this.
The fall of the two citadels i.e. the Jamaitul Islamia Marawi Foundation (JIMF) building and the Bato Ali mosque meant that the terrorists had lost their main headquarters.
The offensive will continue with more such bases targeted and destroyed each day in planned attacks. This way, the pockets of resistance will keep dwindling but we may never be sure as to when the battle ends.
Even while retreating, the terrorists planted landmines to impede the advance of the government forces. But, if Duterte has his way, he chase them to the end of the world and push them over.
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Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson.
Monday, September 18, 2017