MANILA - The alleged new leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia may have already died recently in Marawi City's main battle area during military's clearing operations, a regional commander said Monday.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commanding general of Western Mindanao Command, said Baco and his group were seen in several spots in the city's main battle area.
"The camp commanders have reported to me that there are body counts there in the areas where they are, as where they are hiding and we believe hopefully na isa si Amin Baco," said Galvez.
"Saka si Bahaman 'yung isang Indonesian at yung isang anak ni Isnilon, si Abdullah Hapilon, ito yung pinaka hinahanap namin," the soldier added.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Major Restituto Padilla Jr. said in a statement that the remains of Baco is the subject of an ongoing "aggressive search" by the military.
Padilla assured the public that the remaining stragglers in the main battle area in Marawi will not be able to influence the overall security situation of the city.
"The AFP strongly believes that the group is now leaderless and without direction. Amin Baco is believed to have been among those killed in Marawi recently. Baco's remains is now the subject of an ongoing aggressive search," said Padilla.
The Philippine National Police earlier said Baco is the new leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia following the death of terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon during the Marawi siege.
The information came from Indonesian terrorist Mohammad Ilham Syahputra, who was arrested in Marawi last week. The Defense Department, however, said they are still verifying this information.--report from Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News