MANILA -- Some eight foreign terrorists are among the remaining band of Maute terrorists in Marawi City, the Armed of the Philippines (AFP) said Tuesday.
“Indications have been received that there indeed are six to eight foreign fighters are in the area but whose spirits are very much down and whose willingness to fight is not as high as it was previously,” AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a television interview.
Padilla also said government troops are keeping an eye on one of these foreign terrorists who was identified as Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian national who is fighting on the side of the Maute group in the city.
“Dr. Mahmud is an academic he is not a fighter and his experience in fighting is not as extensive as anyone like Hapilon or the Maute brothers Omar in particular and hence his ability to tactically lead the fight is not there essentially and so we don’t see this as a problem. That’s why even if we do say that he is still there this is not a hundred percent guaranteed because we still have to find clear evidence that will indicate their presence in the area,” the AFP spokesperson explained.
Padilla, however, said the military has yet to confirm whether Ahmad is still within the main battle area in Marawi.
On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte visited Marawi City and declared it liberated from the hands of the Maute terrorist group almost five months after fighting in the city started on May 23.
The declaration came a day after local terrorist leader Omar Maute and ISIS Southeast Asia emir Isnilon Hapilon were confirmed killed in Marawi.
Padilla said the “declaration was made by the President knowing the remaining enemy force is no longer a force to reckon with. Clearing operations are already underway to finish them off should they decide to continue the fight. Major operations have been concluded.”
“The declaration was made to pave the way for the start of a full blown recovery, rehabilitation and rebuilding effort. The President thanked all our troops for their sacrifice, dedication and gallantry. He also committed government's assistance to all evacuees and families affected by the conflict. We call on every sector and our citizenry to help and support the bigger task of rebuilding," Padilla noted. (PNA)