By FROILAN GALLARDO
THE military said soldiers recovered 24 decomposing bodies inside a building near the area where Isis-inspired gunmen are fighting their last stand in Marawi City on Tuesday.
Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao, earlier said there were 18 bodies recovered but Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, later corrected the figure at 24.
Galvez said soldiers recovered two rocket-propelled grenades, four M16 and two M14 rifles.
Brawner said the bodies are believed to be Isis-Maute gunmen killed in aerial bombardment and encounters with government troops in the past month.
He said soldiers spent Tuesday night placing the bodies inside body bags for turnover to police forensic experts who would subject them to DNA testing.
“DNA tests will be performed and the bodies will be buried right away,” Brawner said.
Brawner said teams would bury the bodies in Maqbara Muslim cemetery in Marawi City immediately instead of bringing them to neighboring Iligan City as done before.
He said the discovery of the bodies came as troops battled terrorists wothin five hectares in Marawi.
Galvez said the terrorists are still holding 28 hostages – 12 children and 16 women.
He said they also spotted 33 dependents of Isis-Maute gunmen moving along with the hostages.
Air Force helicopters have been dropping leaflets in plastic bottles giving instructions to the terrorists and their families where to go if they want to surrender.