AFP checks reports Omar Maute, Isnilon Hapilon killed in battle

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 16 2017 09:53 AM | Updated as of Oct 16 2017 11:15 AM

(UPDATED) The Philippine military on Monday said it is still verifying field reports that Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, two leaders of Islamic State-inspired extremists in the southern Philippines, have died in battle in Marawi City.

"We cannot issue any official statement yet pending the confirmation of such report. We will issue appropriate statements related to this soon," said Col. Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Frontline military units will continue offensives to "neutralize the remaining terrorists and rescue their hostages" to end the Marawi crisis, he added.

Maute, with his brother Abdullah, hoisted black flags of the Islamic State group and set fire to Dansalan College in May, marking the beginning of a months-long siege in the Islamic city.

In June, the brothers' parents- father Cayamora and mother Farhana- were arrested in separate police operations. Cayamora died in August.

The military earlier said other Maute brothers—Abdullah, Madi, Otto—have already been killed in the clashes.

Meanwhile, Isnilon Hapilon was said to be the anointed ISIS leader in Southeast Asia. The ongoing clashes supposedly started when government forces tried to serve an arrest warrant on Hapilon.

Malacañang earlier announced a P5 million bounty for the "neutralization" of each of the Maute brothers, and another P10 million for Hapilon.

Since fighting between state forces and the Maute group erupted about 5 months ago, the military was able to kill about 753 terrorists. Forty-seven civilians and 155 soldiers also died in the conflict.

The siege has reduced the once-bustling city of Marawi into ruins, with many buildings and even mosques completely destroyed and riddled with bullets and shrapnel.

President Rodrigo Duterte has already ordered the creation of a task force that will deal with the rehabilitation of Marawi with at least a P20-billion budget.