MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said there were 500 extremist fighters who were involved in the attempted siege of Marawi City, effectively revising the government's initial estimate of 100 extremists.
Lorenzana said at a news conference on Thursday that Islamic State sympathizers from militant groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf were augmented by other armed groups to carry out a "big plan" to take over the capital of Lanao del Sur province.
He said about 260 Maute fighters were joined by 100 of Abu Sayyaf subleader Isnilon Hapilon's own men from Basilan, while the rest came from various local militant organizations, Lorenzana said.
The military, meanwhile, reported 120 militants neutralized in the conflict.
The defense chief estimates that there are about 50 to 100 fighters still holed up in Marawi after state forces reported success in retaking about 90 percent of the areas.
"I'm just guessing, you know? Because a small force cannot hold that long, so there are still around 100 (militants in Marawi)," Lorenzana said.
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