MANILA – The military on Friday said it is still verifying if one of the bodies retrieved from its clearing operations was Omarkhayam Maute, one of the two brothers allegedly behind the Marawi siege.
Task Force Marawi spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said Omar Maute was “most likely killed in a firefight two weeks ago.”
“We have parameters to provide a validation for a report. We have identified or recovered several cadavers so our troops are now checking if the body that was found in the previous clearing operation is a body of a Maute,” he said in an interview with ANC.
"We are continuously doing a validation, constantly collaborating with our troops on the ground to check the report pertaining to the death of Omar Maute."
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año earlier said Omar Maute was “likely dead,” but his brother Abdullah and Isnilon Hapilon, the purported Islamic State leader in Southeast Asia, are still alive and are still in Marawi City.
"Hapilon is still inside (Marawi), kaya nga siguro defying 'yung mga members nito, because Hapilon is still alive. But si Omar Maute, more or less mukhang patay na talaga itong si Omar Maute. Abdullah is still alive, still there, still inside Marawi," he said.
The Maute brothers led hundreds of gunmen in attacking Marawi City last May 23.
Firefights between the Maute group and government troops are still ongoing and have since resulted in 375 deaths.