Philippine military focused on hostage safety

Aaron Brown
October 18, 2017

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the southern city of Marawi liberated after almost five months under Islamic State control.

Philippine security officials said the two final surviving leaders of the deadly siege, including a top Asian terror suspect, were killed in fierce fighting Monday.

Duterte made his third return visit to Marawi a day after the military confirmed the killing of Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf leader, and Omarkhayyam Maute when elite Scout Ranger troops stormed a building where they were holed up early on Monday morning.

It is only a matter of time before Abu Sayyaf proclaims a replacement for their slain leader, Isnilon Hapilon, a Muslim scholar said Tuesday.

While he acknowledged the killing of Hapilon and Maute as a major victory for the government, Martinez said they are not ruling out the possibility that the slain terrorist leaders have followers who may take their place. They have about 20 hostages, including women and children, he said.

Fighting in Marawi City erupted between when government forces tried to arrest Hapilon who was declared as the "emir" of the terror group ISIS in Southeast Asia last May 23.

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The two foremost leaders of an ISIS-inspired coalition that invaded the southern Philippine city of Marawi have been killed after nearly five months of fighting, the county's secretary of defense confirmed Monday. DNA tests will be carried out on the two bodies because of the reward offer from the USA and Philippine governments, Lorenzana said.

As of October 16, the military reported that 824 terrorists had been killed, 827 firearms were recovered and 1,771 hostages were rescued.

"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.

Since then more than 1,000 people have been killed and 400,000 residents displaced as insurgents were hit with a relentless bombing campaign and intense ground battles with troops.

Hapilon is believed to have been involved in the 2001 kidnappings of three Americans, two of whom were later killed. "This means their centre of gravity has crumbled", he told reporters.

The Philippines military is about to end the long battle of Marawi where an Islamic State-linked terrorist group is making its "last stand" amid heavy fighting, top army commanders announced, according to AFP. He said "the Maute-IS have established very strong defensive positions", adding that the IS fighters were hiding in dugouts and basements of occupied buildings.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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