DND: Hapilon, Maute deaths imply end of Marawi conflict

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
DND: Hapilon, Maute deaths imply end of Marawi conflict

Image taken while bodies of slain terrorists, including that of Omar Maute, in Marawi City are being retrieved by the military on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. Military sources

MANILA, Philippines — The killing of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute imply that the ongoing conflict in Marawi City will be over soon, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana confirmed early Monday that the two surviving leaders of the Marawi siege have been killed in an operation conducted by government troops.

"The implication of this is that the end of the Marawi incident is near and we may announce the termination of hostilities in a couple of days," Lorenzana said in a televised press briefing.

Government troops were able to get a testimony from one of the rescued hostages who confirmed the presence of Isnilon and Maute in the building where they were killed.

Image of the remains of Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the Abu Sayyaf and among those who led the Marawi siege, taken on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 in Marawi City. Photo from military sources

READ: Isnilon Hapilon, Omar Maute confirmed killed in Marawi

The military is yet to conduct a DNA test on the bodies of Isnilon and Maute to officially verify their identities.

"They will be subjected to DNA test because several rewards coming from foreign countries and also from us. I think Maute has a P5-million reward on his head. Isnilon has $5-million reward on his head plus another P10 million from the government so that’s huge money," Lorenzana said.

During the operation, the military was also able to rescue at least 17 hostages, including an infant and women, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The Defense chief, however, noted that the military is still looking for the Maute group's Malaysian financier Mahmud bin Ahmad.

"According to some reports, he’s still hiding in one of the buildings there and that’s what they’re trying to do now," Lorenzana said.

The ISIS-inspired local terror group still has about 20 more hostages, whom government troops are yet to rescue, according to Lorenzana.

Assessment needed on lifting martial law

Asked if martial law will be lifted following the deaths of Isnilon and Maute, Lorenzana said that the government is yet to assess the situation of the whole Mindanao region.

"We will assess the entire Mindanao if there is a need to recommend to the president the lifting of martial law," Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana added that the government is only looking into the immediate aftermath of the killing of the two terrorist leaders.

The Defense chief also noted that government troops are prepared in case the local terror group retaliates following the killing of their leaders.

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