DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced on Monday the death of two key leaders of the Islamic State-linked Maute group in Marawi City.
Lorenzana said IS Southeast Asian “emir” Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute were among the fatalities in the early morning fighting.
“We were supposed to go to Marawi with the President but we were prevailed upon by the commanders on the ground to postpone our trip because they are going to conduct the assault today,” Lorenzana told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
The defense chief said that troops were also able to rescue 17 more hostages inside the besieged city.
“They (troops) were able to get a testimony from a hostage that was able to escape and the hostage was able to confirm the presence of Hapilon and [Omar] Maute in a particular building, so that was the building we assaulted this morning,” Lorenzana said.
Despite the death of the two local IS-linked leaders, Lorenzana said there was still one Maute leader, identified as “Doctor Mamud,” from Malaysia, who was still at large.
“According to some reports, he (Mamud) is still hiding in one of the buildings there and that’s what they (troops) are trying to do now,” Lorenzana said.
The bodies of Hapilon and Maute will also be subjected to DNA testing.
Lorenzana said rewards from other countries, especially from the United States, were forthcoming, and would be given to the people who provided information that led to the deaths of the two terrorists.
“I think Omar has a P5 million reward on his head and Isnilon has a $5million reward on his head plus another 10 [million pesos]from the government. So, it’s huge money,” the defense chief said.
Around 20 hostages remain in the battle zone. A military source said operations were ongoing.