MANILA— The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will continue to presume that leaders of the terrorist Maute Group are still trapped in Marawi City, until their bodies are recovered or evidence proves that they have escaped.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Army spokesperson, made the statement when asked late Thursday on whether there is any indication that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar and Abdullah Maute have breached the military cordon set up around the locality.
Padilla said it would be very difficult for them to break out as all exit and entry points in the city are kept under strict watch by military units.
Until evidence show that the three had been killed or had escaped, the military will presume that they are still inside Marawi City, he added.
Fighting in Marawi City broke out last May 23 after the government launched an attempt to arrest Hapilon and his cohorts.
As of Aug. 23, 595 Maute Group terrorists have been killed in battle, along with 129 troops and 45 civilians.