Maute supporter nabbed as gov't steps up offensives in Marawi

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(File photo)

(CNN Philippines, June 27) — Government forces stepped up its offensive against terrorists in Marawi City on Tuesday as they moved towards Lake Lanao which Maute terrorists were using as an escape route.

The military deployed more air assets to attack Maute's stronghold on the ground. The Naval Patrol Unit also strengthened its patrols in Lake Lanao.

Authorities apprehended a Maute supporter on Monday morning, who was onboard a small motorized boat heading north of the lake.

The suspect claimed he was a fisherman but eventually admitted he had been helping the terrorists slip out of the war zone.

According to Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson of Task Force Marawi, the arrested supporter transported wounded Maute terrorists to towns adjacent to Marawi City.

"Na-capture na isang tao with his banca. Eto po ay ating kinonduct ng investigation and found out that this captured Maute is the one facilitating the entry of anmunitions. At eto rin yung tao na nagdadala ng mga wounded galing sa main area of battle papunta doon sa south ng lanao lake," said Herrera.

[Translation: A person was captured with his small boat. We conducted an investigation and found out that this captured Maute member is the one facilitating the entry of ammunitions. He was also the one bringing their wounded to the south of Lake Lanao.]

Herrera added, this development meant they have cut off the terror group's lifeline to logistical supplies.

However, authorities admitted there were Maute members and supporters who had slipped out of Marawi City. Herrera said this can be manifested by arrests of key Maute family members outside of the city.

"Example yung kay Farhana... yung father somewhere in Davao. Ito ay nagpapatunay na talagang mayroong nakalabas. And even during the passage of people during sa mga ginagawa nating peace corridor. May reports na mayroong sumasama. We anticipated that already na may ganoon talaga na pagtakas so lalo nating hinigpitan yung kordon ngayon," Herrera said.

[Translation: One example is Farhana, the father (was arrested) somewhere in Davao. This proves that some have escaped. And even during the passage of people at the peace corridor. There were reports (Maute members) blended in with civilians. We have anticipated that some will really try to escape so we tightened the security.]

Troops also rescued seven hostages from the conflict area on Monday. The victims told the authorities about their experiences in the hands of the Mautes, revealing that terrorists had been sexually abusing some of the women hostages.

"The worst thing, cases of female hostages were forces to marry the Maute local terrorist group. They are being forced for sex slavery. Forced to destroy the dignity of these women," Herrera said.

READ: AFP: Female hostages in Marawi forced to marry Maute members, become sex slaves

Herrera also said the hostages were forced to wear the black ISIS uniform and loot abandoned houses and establishments for ammunition, firearms, gold, cash, jewelries.

The rescued civilians reportedly said the terrorists still had over a hundred hostages inside the grand mosque with Maute leaders. They also confirmed Catholic priest Father Chito Suganob was still alive.