Carmela Fonbuena files this a video report from Mindanao, Philippines. Video: Rappler
By Carmela Fonbuena in Iligan City, Mindanao
About 78 civilians held captive by the Maute Group inside the Amai Pakpak Medical Center public hospital in the city of Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines have been rescued.
The Philippines military declared the hospital “cleared of Maute presence”.
“At 3:00 pm today [Wednesday], the Amai Pakpak Hospital where Maute members accordingly occupied and held captive some 78 civilians was already declared cleared of Maute presence,” said Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command.
More civilians were rescued in other facilities attacked by the Maute group on Tuesday, estimated to be a total of 120 civilians.
Others were not as lucky. At least four people, including a priest, were reportedly seized by militants of the terrorist group.
The Maute Group killed a policeman and a security guard, and then took hostages – eight patients, 49 construction workers, and 21 hospital staff – on Tuesday when they forced hospital staff to treat two of their wounded colleagues.
Clashes with military
Rappler sources said they left the hospital late evening on Tuesday as clashes with the military raged.
In Dansalan College, one of the buildings where fire broke out, they rescued up to 42 teachers who were trapped. It was also declared “clear of Maute presence” Wednesday afternoon.
Five soldiers and 13 members of the terror groups were killed in the clashes, based on military reports. Up to 31 soldiers were wounded.
Clashes erupted on Tuesday as the military moved to hunt down Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was sighted in Marawi City.
Hapilon, who reportedly has direct links to international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS), joined the Maute Group in Lanao Del Sur supposedly to establish an Islamic caliphate in Central Mindanao.
Carmela Fonbuena is a Rappler reporter in Iligan City, Mindanao.