Philippines: Last leaders of IS-tied siege killed in Marawi

Philippines Army says Islamists making 'last stand' in Marawi

Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute Group leader Omar Maute were killed during a military operation that also led to the rescue of 17 hostages in the early hours of Monday, Day 147 of the Marawi Crisis.

"Crumbling leadership signals the beginning of the end", said Marawi City Bishop Edwin dela Peña in an interview. "They were both killed", Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters.

With this, the Catholic prelate admitted that he is feel grateful with the development of the situation in the city. "So that's the building that we assaulted this morning, early this morning", Lorenzana said. He left his lair in Basilan past year to join the Maute Group in Butig, Lanao Del Sur, where Omar Maute and his brother Abdullah led an occupation of Butig's town center.

A top Malaysian militant, Mahmud bin Ahmad, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Handzalah and is a close associate of Hapilon, has not been found and was among the remaining militants being hunted by troops, he said.

The FBI had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to Hapilon's apprehension or conviction for a litany of alleged crimes, including hostage taking, murder, and terrorist activities. He was indicted in the District of Columbia for his alleged involvement in terrorist acts against U.S. nationals and other foreign nationals as an official of the Abu Sayyaf, which is listed as a foreign terrorist organization.

"I'm beginning to feel relieved", he said. More than 350,000 people from Marawi and its nearby towns have been displaced by the fighting.

Brawner said at least 20 soldiers were wounded during the intense firefight to liberate Marawi City that started at around 2 a.m. and ended at around 6 a.m. Monday.

"She was able to confirm the presence of Isnilon and Maute in that particular building".

Among the last batch of surviving fighters were about 10 foreigners, mostly Malaysians and Indonesians, but there were no immediate word about their condition, the military said. US -trained army and police commandos crawled toward militant positions overnight and launched an assault.

He said after the cessation of hostilities in Marawi "within this week", they will "assess the entire Mindanao if there is a need to recommend to the President the lifting of martial law".

Duterte has gone to the battle area a number of times to rally the troops, once firing a sniper rifle toward militant position.

Though a various disparate militants have operated in the region for years, said analysts, Hapilon's elevation to ISIS emir led to greater unity between the various organizations in the area.

The United States and Australia have deployed surveillance aircraft to help Filipino troops battling the Marawi attackers.

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