MANILA - A 2-month-old baby was among the 20 hostages rescued from the Maute terrorists in an assault that led to the death of two terrorist leaders early Monday, the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.
In a press conference in Marawi, AFP chief of staff Eduardo Año said the baby girl was born in captivity and the Maute terrorists were even the ones who gave her a name.
"Kanina, nung binisita ko 'yung mga hostages, nandun 'yung 2-months-old baby. Ang pangalan pa nga 'Queen Mill.' Ang nagpangalan 'yung Maute," said Año.
"Doon siya ipinanganak during the ordeal. Two months old, 4 months na 'yung ating siege. Ang nagpaanak sila-sila lang daw. Sabi nga namin palitan 'yung pangalan gawing Mawi, short for Marawi," he added.
The AFP chief said the military is still trying to rescue 22 more hostages held by more or less 30 Maute terrorists left without a leader in the main battle area.
Año also confirmed that the leaders who led the Marawi siege, Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, were among the 9 terrorists killed in a 4-hour firefight from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Monday.
With the death of the two terrorists leaders, the military believes that the liberation of Marawi will come sooner.
More than 300,000 Filipinos have been displaced by the fighting, which authorities say has killed 824 rebels, 47 civilians and 162 military.
The occupation has been the biggest internal security crisis in the Catholic-majority Philippines for years, compounding fears that Islamic State's extremist agenda and its advanced recruitment methods are more widespread than previously thought.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said military officials would assess whether to lift martial law in Mindanao. He said all cities on the island of 22 million people were vulnerable to attack, but authorities were vigilant.
-- Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News and Reuters