Gov't retakes Maute stronghold, Dansalan College, in Marawi

MANILA, Philippines – The military has taken control of a key terrorist stronghold in Marawi, the Dansalan College, on the 6th week of clashes, taking the troops closer to where about a hundred hostages are believed to be kept. 

"Troops have taken over control of Dansalan College, one of the strongholds of the terrorists and criminal gangs who attacked Marawi a month ago," said a statement issued by the Joint Task Force Marawi on Tuesday, July 4.

The military also claimed to have retrieved a cadaver of a foreign fighter believed to be from Singapore, presumably among those who shared the local terrorist groups' allegiance to the international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS). 

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A cadaver of a foreign-looking individual was also recovered by troops. It is believed that it is one of the reported foreign fighters from Singapore," the military said.

The Maute brothers, primarily responsible for the clashes, once went to Dansalan College, which is near Lake Lanao. Its compound was among the first facilities the terrorists attacked when the crisis erupted on May 23. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)

It proved strategic in repelling military advances. "The school is host to some high rise structures that serve as machine gun nest and snipers' vantage position of terrorist elements," the military said. (READ: Marawi battle zone: Urban warfare challenges PH military)

The military began its advance towards the compound on Sunday, July 2. The area was cleared on Monday. 

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Soldiers are gradually taking over terrorist held structures as enemy strong points fall one by one to government forces," the military said.

The military said they recovered a caliber .50 heavy machine gun and about a dozen more high-powered firearms. 

The fighting in Marawi has displaced almost all of the city's 200,000 residents who have not been allowed to return to the city even as clashes have been contained in 4 villages.

The military said the rest of Marawi City has yet to be cleared of various threats such as improvised explosive devices that may have been left behind by the terrorists. 

In the battle area, an estimated 500 residents are still trapped in their homes and are feared to be going hungry. Some have risked crossing bridges that have been the target of enemy snipers. 

"Daily stream of civilians are being rescued while battle rages and as government forces continue to gain ground and foothold in enemy strongholds," said the military. – Rappler.com