Philippines: 2 ISIS-affiliated terror leaders eliminated in Marawi

"Crumbling leadership signals the beginning of the end", said Marawi City Bishop Edwin dela Peña in an interview. Lorenzana said teams were being sent to cities around Davao, Cotabato, Basilan and Zamboanga to meet with barangay leaders and residents, urging vigilance and briefing them on signs of suspicious activity to watch out for. "We may announce the termination of hostilities in the couple of days".

"We will announce the termination of hostilities once government forces have ensured that there are no more terrorists-stragglers in the city and we have cleared all structures of IEDs and other traps", he added.

Hapilon is among the terror suspects on the Federal Bureau of Investigation list with a 5-million-U.S. dollars bounty on his head.

Lorenzana said he was supposed to go to Marawi City with President Duterte on Monday, but this did not push through after they were prevented by military ground commanders due to the planned assault.

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

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.

After the fighting stops, Lorenzana said the government will refocus its efforts "on the challenging task of rebuilding and rehabilitating Marawi".

The Maute and Abu Sayyaf militants laid siege to the Philippine Islamic city on May 23.

The head of the Islamic State group in Southeast Asia and one of the leaders of the IS-inspired Maute Group were killed by troops mounting a final assault to reclaim Marawi City, officials confirmed on Monday. A total of 824 Maute terrorists, 167 soldiers, and 47 civilians have been killed in nearly five months of gunbatlles.

The government said at least 1,066 people have been killed, including 822 militants and 162 government forces.

The militants have also taken several hostages and used them as shield or fighters during the more than four-month fighting, the military claimed.

At the press conference, aired live nationwide, Lorenzana, said Malaysian national Dr. Mahmud, Ahmad, a Universiti Malaya professor who joined the Islamic State and is believe to have been among those who planned the Marawi siege, is reportedly still hiding in one of the buildings there.

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".

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.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said five other terrorists were killed but their identities were not immediately known.

  • Santos West