June 28 (UPI) -- The mutilated bodies of more than a dozen civilians were found on a street in the Philippines on Wednesday, and military officials believe they were killed by the regional Maute terrorist group.
"The recovered cadavers are believed to be among those civilians who were helplessly murdered by the Maute terrorists," AFP Brig. Gen. Joselito Bautista said in a statement.
Philippine authorities say the regional Maute syndicate operates in line with the Islamic State terror group, although it is not formally affiliated with the radical Islamist organization. Government armed forces have been fighting Maute insurgents in Marawi for more than a month, and officials said nearly 300 Maute militants have been killed in that time.
Military officials said more "atrocities" could happen to civilians as the fighting continues between militants and Philippine troops and the government tries to gain more ground.
AFP Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the civilian death toll from fighting has so far risen to 27 -- not including the 17 bodies found Wednesday.