‘THEY COULD’VE BEEN 10-16 YRS OLD’ | Freed Maute hostages saw child fighters among captors

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Ten men who managed to escape from the Maute group Monday, just before what they expected to be their impending execution, said they saw child fighters among their captors.

They also noted the presence of child warriors mixed in with the Maute Group.

May maliliit du’n, may maliliit pa (There were children there),” Ronnel Samiehan said.

“They couldn’t be older than 10 years old up to 16 years old,” Samiehan said. “They were so fired up. Some of them were guarding us and there was no look of mercy on their faces.”

One of the child warriors, who brandished a “baby Armalite,” carried out the task of taking pictures of the beheading of one of the hostages, Samiehan and his companions said.

Samiehan’s group originally had 12 men, all of them captured as they tried to flee on the first day of the fighting, on May 23.

They lost one of their companions, who was beheaded by the Maute group.

This, they said, helped them make up their mind to escape when they found the chance to do so.

When a helicopter gunship hovered near the building where they were being kept, the gunmen watching them rushed to take up defensive positions 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. But another of their companions drowned while they were crossing a fast-flowing creek.

“He was too weak to make it across. He got carried downstream. It’s so sad.”

They said there are around 40 more persons being held hostage by the Maute group, including teachers, nurses and a Catholic priest.