Military: Freed hostages say more captives left with Maute

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Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año talked to the 17 rescued hostages during his visit inside the main battle area of Marawi.

Marawi City (CNN Philippines, October 7) — Civilians rescued from the Maute terrorists told the military several hostages are still left in terror-stricken Marawi.

Joint Task Force (JTF) Ranao on Saturday said the number of hostages could be up to 60.

"Ito po yung revelation ng hostages natin (This is what the hostages have revealed). We believe that we were not able to see everybody. Mukhang marami pong nakatago pa rin sa mga basement (Many are kept in basements)," JTF Ranao Deputy Commander Colonel Romeo Brawner said.

(Translation: "This is the revelation of the hostages. We believe that we were not able to see everybody. It seems more were hidden in basements.")

Prior to the rescue of 17 hostages on Wednesday, the military said there were only 43 captives left.

Read more: Government forces rescue 17 hostages from Maute

The military said the ISIS-linked Maute group is keeping hostages in five different locations in the main battle area.

Based on the accounts of the rescued male hostages, they were asked to carry firearms and guard their areas at night.

Earlier, the military said those armed hostages forced to fight government forces may be neutralized.

The military reiterated its promise to rescue the remaining hostages and flush out the terrorists.

The military also said the rescued hostages are in good condition, except for a few who are recovering from dehydration.

"We want to assure their families and friends na yung mga na-rescue po natin na hostages (that those rescued) are treated well by the armed forces and the police. They just undergo a process po ngayon (They are undergoing a process)," Brawner said.

Government troops are fighting an estimated 38 to 48 Maute fighters in Marawi as the military declares the war is nearing its end.

Related: Military sees end of Marawi siege in 15 days or less

A total of 753 members of the Maute group, 155 troops, and 47 civilians have been killed in Marawi since May 23, when clashes between soldiers and terrorists began, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law throughout Mindanao.

New leadership

Joint Special Operations Group Commander Maj. Gen. Danilo Pamonag is now in-charge of the military operations in Marawi, following the appointment of Maj. Gen. Rolly Bautista as the commanding general of the Philippine Army.

Pamonag previously led military operations during the Zamboanga siege in 2013 where Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels attacked government forces and took about 300 hostages.

"No specific change in the tactics but there will be renewed operations in terms of finishing the fighting inside the main battle area," Brawner said.