Philippine troops have finally been able to clear and retake a Catholic church in Marinaut village, Marawi City, on Aug. 25 --- 95 days after the extremist Maute group attacked the Muslim-majority town on the island of Mindanao. They have also recently taken back control of a second bridge.
Maute fighters had seized St. Mary's Cathedral when they attacked Marawi City on May 23. But now, Western Mindanao and Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay said the 10th Infantry Battalion fought the ISIS-inspired terrorists and was able to retake the church on several days ago. They were also able to clear the house of worship of improvised explosive devices, The Philippine Star relayed.
In addition, Capt. Petinglay said the Filipino troops recovered three high-powered firearms and ammunition from inside of St. Mary's Cathedral.
During the first week of the Marawi siege, Maute fighters posted videos showing them seizing the Catholic church. They also desecrated the religious images inside the place and took Fr. Teresito "Chito" Soganob and 10 other hostages with them.
Just a day before the government troops successfully retook St. Mary's Cathedral, they were able to seize back the Islamic Center and the Grand Mosque from the group where they recovered an assortment of weapons and a black Islamic State flag. They also discovered a tunnel believed to have been used to store ammunition.
On Aug. 31, the military was also able to get back a second bridge, the Bayabao Bridge, which is also known as the Banggolo Bridge. This leaves one last bridge to retake, the Masiu Bridge, which is situated in the Lake Lanao vicinity.
Meanwhile, the war between Philippine troops and Maute group has already passed its 100th day on Aug. 30. The Armed Forces of the Philippines called on the people to support and pray for them so that the conflict may be resolved soon, Minda News reported.
Based on AFP Western Command chief Lt. Gen Carlito Galvez's estimate, Marawi will be liberated from the Maute group in two or three weeks. AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said their troops have already surrounded the Islamist fighters and are aiming to give them no way out.