Nearly five months after the onset of the insurgence in Marawi City, Lanao del sur, which triggered the President’s declaration of martial law over the city, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday confirmed the deaths of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, top leaders of the local terrorist group.
“I confirm the killing of Isnilon Hapilon at saka [and] Omar Maute early this morning,” the Secretary said in a press briefing; adding that the bodies are subject to DNA testing, Inquirer reported.
The secretary also said they were originally planning to go to Marawi with the President on Monday but they were discouraged by ground commanders as they were told about the planned operations to be conducted against the two terrorist leaders.
The operation turned out successful as Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute of the Maute group were later reported to have been killed by the military during the encounter on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, the military has not yet given reports about Omar’s brother, Abdullah Maute. Aside from him, the government forces are also going after Dr. Mahmoud Ahmad, a Malaysian terrorist who joined the ISIS-inspired Maute group.
The secretary is hoping that the deaths of Hapilon and Maute would indicate the crisis in Marawi is now coming to an end, although, he did not yet affirm the lifting of martial law in Mindanao, and said they will still look into it.
“We may announce the termination of hostilities in Marawi within this week,” Lorenzana added during the media briefing.
The secretary also expressed that the military are preparing for the retribution of the Maute group as he said ‘we know the modus of the enemy is to do diversions here and there.’
In the meantime, Zia Alonto Adiong, Marawi Crisis Management Committee head, said 17 hostages were rescued on Monday and over 20 hostages are still left in Marawi.
The conflict between the military and the terrorist groups sparked on May 23, when authorities tried to arrest Hapilon.
Hapilon, being the leader of the Abu Sayyaf based in Basilan who pledged allegiance to terror group ISIS, was allegedly recognized by the group in 2014 as its leader in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.
Omar, on the other hand, was one of the leaders behind the Maute Terrorist Group.
The terrorist groups were planning to establish a wilayat or ISIS province in Marawi.
As of Sunday, the war has left 162 soldiers dead, and more than 1,700 others wounded.
The armed forces have killed 817 Maute fighters since its onset on May 23 while there are 47 civilian casualties listed.
President Rodrigo Duterte offered a P10-million bounty over Hapilon, on top of the $5-million reward by the United States for the Abu Sayyaf leader. The government also offered P5-million bounty for each of the two Maute brothers.