News Worms
News Worms

Philippines Army says Islamists making 'last stand' in Marawi

Philippines Army says Islamists making 'last stand' in Marawi

Following the operational plan of the military troops postponing their supposed trip to Marawi, the defense chief said that troops were able to get the top terrorist leaders and rescue 17 more hostages inside the besieged city.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Isnilon Hapilon, the alleged emir of the IS jihadist group in Southeast Asia, and Omarkhayam Maute were killed in a firefight Monday morning.

In a press statement, Lorenzana said they 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". "We may announce the termination of hostilities in the couple of days".

The troops were able to locate Hapilon and Maute through the information provided by a female hostage who earlier escaped.

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 military operations are now ongoing to capture him. The military said Hapilon and the Maute brothers plotted the Marawi siege on May 23.

With major terrorists eliminated, Zubiri said that rehabilitation, resettlement and development activities can go "full blast".

Local assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong said that with the death of two militant leaders involved in the siege, the eagerness of the more than 390,000 displaced residents to return home is mounting.

After the fighting stops, Lorenzana said the government will refocus its efforts "on the challenging task of rebuilding and rehabilitating Marawi". The health department said in July that 40 civilians died of sickness in government-run evacuation centers in nearby provinces. This group, which has sworn allegiance to Daesh and set up in the south of the Philippines is considered by the United States as a " foreign terrorist organisation ".

Lorenzana said the bodies of the two terrorist leaders would be subject to DNA test, noting that these two have bounties on their heads from foreign countries. "Numerous captives are being kept in basements", he said, referring to the basements of buildings occupied by the militants.

Filipino government troops on a truck manoeuvre at a deserted street as fighting between Islamist militants and government forces continues in Marawi City, Mindanao Island, southern Philippines, 02 June 2017.

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". President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the south, scene of decades-old Muslim separatist uprising, to deal with the siege, the worst crisis he has faced since rising to power in June past year.

Television footage and images reveal the huge destruction in Marawi.


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