MANILA - Omar Maute, one of the Maute brothers who led the 5-month long siege in Marawi City, was killed after he was hit on the head by sniper fire, the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief said Monday.
Speaking to reporters, AFP chief of staff Eduardo Año said Maute and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon were moving into another building with the hostages when they were killed by the troops early Monday.
"Si Isnilon sa dito sa breast [ang tama] si Omar dito, headshot, sniper ang nakatira sa kanya," said Año in a press conference in Marawi following the military's successful assault against the ISIS-inspired terrorists.
"The group of Hapilon and Omar, together with the hostages, were transferring from one building to the next. Really ang kanilang intention ay makatakas sa loob ng [main battle area] kasama 'yung mga hostages," he added.
The AFP chief said the clash between the military and the terrorists in the lakeside city lasted for at least 4 hours, from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Aside from the terrorist leaders, 7 more terrorists were killed in the encounter.
Malacañang had announced a P5 million bounty for the "neutralization" of each of the Maute brothers, and P10 million for Hapilon. Año said the amount will go to "deserving informants" after a process.
Operations however continue to rescue the remaining 22 hostages and capture at most 30 Maute members left leaderless in the city's main battle area.
"Supposedly kayang-kaya talaga nila na tapusin itong mga threats na ito sa timeline if not for the hostages. And it is worth the effort that we saved [the hostages]," the AFP chief said.
Military forces are also chasing Mahmud Bin Ahmad, a Malaysian terrorist who not only financed the assault of the Maute group, but also organized terrorist cells in Southeast Asia.
The death of Hapilon and Maute means the liberation of Marawi is near, said Año, as the military is eyeing the announcement of the cessation of hostilities in the war-torn city within the week.
-- Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News