Hapilon, Omar Maute killed in Marawi fighting-Lorenzana
Oct 17, 2017, 00:29
"They were both killed", Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters.
The Philippine defense chief said on Monday that the top leaders of the pro-IS militant groups that laid siege to the southern Philippine city of Marawi have already been killed in action.
Government troops are now chasing a foreign terrorist who is fighting on the side of the Maute group in the city.
The bodies of Hapilon and Maute will be subjected to DNA tests, "because there are rewards coming from a foreign country" and rewards offered by the Philippine government as well.
Año said the killings of Hapilon and Maute removed the "center of gravity" of a number of other ISIS-linked groups elsewhere in the south.
"We will announce the termination of hostilities once the government forces have ensured that there are no more terrorists-stragglers in the city and we have cleared all structures of improvised explosive devices and other traps", Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana said the killings of Hapilon and Maute mean that the Marawi conflict will be over soon and that the government will soon announce the "termination of hostilities in a couple of days".
Military leaders had said last month that three leaders of the militants who began the siege of the lakeside city on May 23 were killed in the months of fighting but the two still alive were leading a final stand.
Lorenzana also said that government troops were able to rescue 17 more hostages, leaving more than 20 hostages still in the hands of the terrorists.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana has said that their troops are now searching for Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad, who is believed to be a financier of the terrorist group.
Lorenzana said there are still around "21 or 22" hostages held by the terrorists.
"We were supposed to go to Marawi today with the President but we were advised by ground commanders not to go because they will conduct the assault this morning", the defence minister was quoted by the Philippines Star as saying.
More than 1,000 people have been killed in the Marawi violence, including more than 800 militants.
The military said at least 47 civilians have been killed by the terrorists. He left his lair in Basilan past year to join the Maute Group in Butig, Lanao Del Sur, where Omar Maute and his brother Abdullah led an occupation of Butig's town center.
In May, Duterte declared martial law on the island of Mindanao for a 60-day period, which was later extended until the end of the year, as the battle against IS-affiliated militants intensified.
Asked if martial law in Mindanao will be lifted now that the leaders are dead, Lorenzana replied: "we are not talking about lifting martial law yet".
The Defense Department and Marawi local government will supervise all reconstruction efforts, Lorenzana said.
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