IS Southeast Asia chief killed in Philippines

The reports cited state security officials who are familiar with the battle in Marawi, which began in May. More than 1000 people, including over 800 militants, were killed in fighting since according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Four military and police officials earlier told The Associated Press that Isnilon Hapilon, who is listed among the FBI's most-wanted terror suspects, and Omarkhayam Maute were killed in a gunbattle and their bodies were found Monday.

The Philippine government had also offered a five million peso reward for Omar Maute.

Hapilon, who is listed as one of the FBI's most-wanted terror suspects, and Maute have always been in the crosshairs of the Philippine state.

"Needless to say, the remaining terrorists should as well free their hostages and if their dignity is intact by letting the noncombatants go", Año added.

Philippines security forces had laid siege to the city on 23 May after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law in the region to conduct the anti-terror operation against Isis-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Maute group.

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Military chief Gen. Eduardo Ano told AP that Duterte's statement means the threat from the militants, who've been fighting in Marawi since May 23, is substantially over.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops" Conference of the Philippines, denies that the CBCP "regrets' the killing of Marawi siege leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute. Hapilon also had a $5m U.S. bounty on his head for carrying out multiple ransom kidnappings and beheadings of U.S. citizens.

The siege, which lasted nearly five months destroyed much of the city's once popular center and left more than 400,000 people from Marawi and elsewhere living in temporary shelters. Around 100 civilians, including hostages and families of the militants, are also trapped there, Brawner added.

"As days passed, they (terrorists) each took [their] own [share of the loot] and hid the money so that when they can escape, they can come back for it", Año said. Hapilon was based in Basilan island in the strife-torn south but authorities said in January that he had moved to the Mautes' base in Lanao del Sur province, 300 kilometres (180 miles) east, to create an alliance and to establish an IS presence there.

Terrorism expert Ahmad Kumar Ramakrishna from Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies said if Ahmad survived he would likely take over the leadership of IS-linked fighters in the southern Philippines.

"Women and children are now forced to fight together with the Maute-ISIS fighters".


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