MARAWI CITY – Some 10 hostages here who have been lined up by their abductors from the Maute Group for execution managed to slip away on Monday, taking advantage of a moment when their captors were distracted by an aerial assault by government forces.
Their grim revelation was that there could be at least 40 other hostages being kept by the terrorists, including a few teachers from Dansalan College, a priest and an undetermined number of nurses.
They had tried to evacuate as early as the first day of the breakout of skirmishes between the government forces and the Maute Group, but when they were passing through Barangay Mapandi, the bandits intercepted them and rounded them up inside a building.
According to Ronnel Samiehan, one of those who escaped, his group, weak and hungry, was kept downstairs, but on the second floor they could hear the voices of women, whom one of their Maute captors indicated was a teacher. “One of those who tried to record a video of us also said a priest was among the captives upstairs.”
Their captors tried to record videos of the hostages to be sent as messages to keep the government forces at bay by threatening to decapitate their captives.
From a dossier of wanted persons of interest, they picked out two: a fellow identified as a certain Alimar Hilal, and the other one who went by the monicker Najib.
Alimar was reportedly the one who tied them up, while Najib was the one coaching them about what to say to the video camera.
They also noted the presence of child warriors mixed in with the Maute Group.
Ronnel said: “They couldn’t be older than 10 years old up to 16 years old. They were so fired up. Some of them were guarding us and there was no look of mercy on their faces.”
One of the 10-year old child warriors brandished a baby Armalite and was seen taking pictures of decapitated hostages.
It was when a helicopter gunship was hovering nearby when the Maute Group rushed into defensive position on the second floor.
Ronnel’s group, desperate and sensing this was their do-or-die opportunity to escape, managed to slip out the gate of the building.
One of their companions drowned while they were crossing a creek with fast-flowing water. “He was too weak to make it across. He got carried downstream. It’s so sad.”
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