PHILIPPINE Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday confirmed that Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute, two of the several terrorists leaders responsible for the month long siege of Marawi City, have been killed.
Lorenzana, in a press conference, said an early morning military assault on the terrorists stronghold led to the deaths of Hapilon and Maute and the rescue of 17 hostages. He said one of the hostages who managed to escape from the terrorists led the military to Hapilon and Maute’s lair.
“So they were able to do it this morning. They were able to get Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute. They were both killed. In fact, their faces are now splashed in the internet. They were also able to recover 17 hostages,” Lorenzana told newsmen.
However, Lorenzana added, the remaining terrorists still have some 20 hostages they use as human shield while they try to avoid the military dragnet.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana said, the bodies of the two men will be subjected to DNA tests because of the reward offer from the US and Philippine governments.
When asked by reporters about the possibility of lifting martial law in Mindanao, Lorenzana said they are still assessing the situation even as they are now planning to announce the termination of hostilities in the coming days.
“The implication of this development is that the Marawi incident is almost over and we may announce the termination of hostilities in a couple of days,” Lorenzana said.
The Marawi siege started on May 23 following a botched attempt by the military to arrest Hapilon.
Since then the terrorists have withstood a relentless US-backed bombing campaign and intense ground battles with government troops that have left large parts of Marawi resembling devastated cities in war-torn Syria and Iraq.
More than 1,000 people had been killed, 400,000 Marawi City residents displaced and billions of pesos worth of public and private properties were destroyed or damaged because of the sige.
Hapilon, leader of the Basilan island based kidnap for ransom group Abu Sayyaf, was appointed emir by the Islamic State in Southeast Asia where it wanted to establish a caliphate after losing its “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq. He is also accused of involvement in the 2001 kidnappings including of three Americans, two of whom were later killed.
Hapilon is included in the United States list of “most Wanted Terrorist” in the world.
Omar, on the other hand, together with his brother Abdullah, who was killed by the military last month, were the acknowledged leaders of the criminal Maute group.
Earlier, the Philippine government has offered a PhP10 million bounty for Hapilon, on top of the US$5 million reward offered by the United States. Both the Philippine and US governments also placed a PhP5 million reward for the two Maute brothers.
Meanwhile, the defense secretary also said government troops are going after Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad, believed to be a financier of the terrorist group and one of the planners of the Marawi siege.
Read More: (http://beyonddeadlines.com/2017/07/30/marawi-should-be-a-wake-up-call-uspacom-head-warns-of-daesh-migration-to-asia/)