Philippines: 2 ISIS-affiliated terror leaders eliminated in Marawi

  • Philippines: 2 ISIS-affiliated terror leaders eliminated in Marawi

Philippines: 2 ISIS-affiliated terror leaders eliminated in Marawi

"We do not know if he will be considered as the emir for Southeast Asia".

"As days passed, they (terrorists) each took [their] own [share of the loot] and hid the money so that when they can escape, they can come back for it", Año said.

Another leader, Abdullah Maute, was reported by the army to have been killed in August, though no body was found to prove his death.

Ahmad is the top remaining target for government forces battling to end the almost five-month siege of Marawi that has claimed more than 1,000 lives and left the Islamic city in ruins.

Soldiers distribute pictures of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who has a United States government bounty of $5 million for his capture, in Butig, Lanao del Sur in southern Philippines February 1, 2017.

"Mahmud remains. one of our high-value targets in the operations being conducted", Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Maj.

He added troops were fighting in a zone comprising about 60 to 80 buildings in the ruined city.

Padilla said between 20 to 30 fighters, who he referred to as "stragglers", remain.

He said the battle for Marawi could be over imminently, adding that 17 hostages were rescued this morning.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, the former military official who asked not to be named said the fighters "practically held the nation and military hostage for several months". In May, terrorists from the Maute group stormed a church in Marawi and took hostages.

Ahmad is also reported to be a university lecturer in his home country in charge of raising finances from overseas for the jihadists and recruitment.

Security officials believe Hapilon's death is significant, considering he was the uniting factor in Marawi, and that the blow to the worldwide terror network is also serious, especially since the he was named by Daesh as emir of Southeast Asia.

The military, which killed two key militant leaders on Monday, said they hoped it was the final phase of defeating a dwindling band of fighters who had occupied Marawi for nearly five months.

Since then more than 1,000 people have been killed and 400,000 residents displaced.

The directive included tightening border security to prevent militants from moving around Mindanao.

President Rodrigo Duterte and security analysts say Hapilon has been a key figure in the jihadist outfit's drive to establish a Southeast Asian caliphate as they suffer battlefield defeats in Iraq and Syria.

Padilla said troops were trying their best to make Marawi safe from bombs and booby traps.

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.