With the fighting in Marawi is drawing to a close, as Filipino military forces rout the remaining Islamist fighters holding onto the last footholds in the city, the military killed two of the leaders of the terrorists who have held Marawi since May 23. According to sources, army snipers killed both Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute in the fighting.
The fighting has been bloody in Marawi, with over 1000 dead, including 800 of the insurgents. But the army has kept the pressure on and the terrorists are now held in a small enclave which is expected to fall soon. Hapilon is on the US list of “most wanted terrorists”, was killed in the fighting during a pre-dawn attack along with another wanted militant, Omar Maute, the army said. Maute was one of two brothers who were head of the Maute Terror Group. His brother Abdullah is believed to have been killed in September.
It will be just a matter of days before it will finally be declared that Marawi has been liberated from the clutches of terrorists,” army chief of staff General Eduardo Ano told a news conference. “There will be no let up.”
He held up photos of two bloodied faces he said were those of Hapilon and Maute, one of two brothers who head the region’s Maute insurgency group.
Hapilon was shot in the head and Maute died of a chest wound during a night-time operation, officials said. A freed hostage tipped off the authorities about their whereabouts.
Observers say the occupation of Marawi stoked fears that militant Islamist ideology is more prevalent on the island of Mindanao than had previously been imagined.
The region is the only Muslim-majority part of the otherwise largely Catholic Philippines.
With the terrorists holding just about 5 acres of Marawi, the military has to root out the remaining fighters, thought to contain 5-8 foreign fighters as well as about 30 civilians being held as hostages.
Besides the killing of Hapilon, the self-anointed “emir of the IS Caliphate” in Mindanao, the latest attack freed 17 hostages.
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Photo courtesy Jack Murphy