Top Marawi siege leaders killed in clashes

Philippines Army says Islamists making 'last stand' in Marawi

The Philippine military has killed two senior commanders of the Isis-affiliated military groups behind the deadly siege in Marawi City in an operation that defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana believes will lead to "the termination of hostilities in a couple of days".

Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf, touted to be Emir of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, and Omar Maute of the Maute Group (right), killed in the early hours of Monday, 16 October 2017, Day 147 of the Marawi Crisis.

The U.S. State Department has offered a reward of up to $5 million for Hapilon, whom Washington blames for ransom kidnappings of several Americans, one of whom was beheaded in 2001 in southern Basilan province.

Hapilon was thought to have issued an emergency call for reinforcements from members of the Maute group, which was headed by Omar and his brother Abdullah. Around 100 civilians, including hostages and families of the militants, are also trapped there, Brawner added.

Lorenzana also disclosed that President Rodrigo Duterte was scheduled to visit Marawi again on Monday but said they were "prevailed by the commanders on the ground to postpone the trip because they are going to conduct the assault this morning".

The military previously estimated that they will liberate Marawi by Sunday.

"The implication of this development is that the Marawi incident is nearly over and we may announce the termination of hostilities in a couple of days", Lorenzana said.

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.

"The only way (ISIS) could do this again is if people in these areas do nothing when they see some foreign-looking people with firearms and explosives, which happened in Marawi", Lorenzana said. A total of 824 Maute terrorists, 167 soldiers, and 47 civilians have been killed in nearly five months of gunbatlles.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in the Marawi violence, including more than 800 militants.

The rebel alliance in Marawi is comprised of fighters from the Maute group, Abu Sayyaf, and aided by foreigners from countries that include Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and some Middle East states.

The battle for Marawi began on May 23, when the military launched an operation targeting Hapilon on the island of Mindanao, where Marawi is located.

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".

On Sept. 21, Duterte said that he would lift the martial law once the Marawi conflict is over and cleared of militants.

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.

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