Military drives out Maute Group terrorists from Bato Mosque

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An Armored Personnel Carrier and government troops march towards Mapandi bridge after 100 days of intense fighting between soldiers and extremists in Marawi City. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces has retaken the historic Bato Mosque from terrorists who have held Marawi City under siege since May 23.

The Maute Group was forced to abandon the mosque on the 117th day of battle, as the military made a final push to drive out the remnants of the ISIS-inspired group from the once progressive Islamic City, a large part of which is now in ruins.

The Bato Mosque had served as a stronghold of the terrorists, who took advantage of the fact that government forces hesitate to attack religious institutions.

Besides the Bato Mosque, the military has also re-taken the Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation.

Government forces earlier saw some of the terrorists holding out at the mosque with some civilian hostages

According to the military, however, when they finally retook the mosque, there were no longer any hostages.

Meanwhile, four soldiers were hurt when an improvised explosive device that terrorists had abandoned at Bato mosque exploded.

Some 600 terrorists have been killed since May 23 when the Maute Group attacked Marawi and took over some government buildings, hospitals, schools and banks.