Philippines Army says Islamists making 'last stand' in Marawi


"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.

Men identified by Philippines Intelligence officers as Isnilon Hapilon (2nd left, yellow headscarf) and Abdullah Maute (2nd right, standing, long hair) are seen in this still image taken from video released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines June 7, 2MANILA, Oct 16 - Philippine troops killed two leaders of a militant alliance in an operation in southern Marawi City this morning, the defence minister said, a big boost to a military battling to contain the spread of Islamic State's radical ideology.

Philippine security officials said the two final surviving leaders of the deadly siege, including a top Asian terror suspect, were killed in fierce fighting Monday.

Gunfire rang out sporadically and explosions thudded as Philippine soldiers fought Tuesday to gain control of the last pocket of Marawi controlled by Islamic militants as President Rodrigo Duterte declared the southern city liberated from "terrorist influence".

Marawi, a mosque-studded center of Islamic faith in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, has been devastated by five months of military attacks against the Islamic State group-allied militants who overran the city on May 23. The other militant leader killed was Omar Maute, one of the two brothers who led the Maute terrorist group in the country, Lorenzana told a news conference.

"Hapilon and Maute. The CBCP never made such a statement", Villegas added.

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However, AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año stressed in a press briefing in Marawi, also on Tuesday, assured that just because the battle is near its end, it does not mean that there will be a "letup" in their operations.

The Philippine government had offered a 10m Philippines peso bounty for Hapilon on top of the $5m reward offered by the US.

"The Marawi incident is nearly over and we may announce the termination of hostilities in a couple of days", Lorenzana said.

"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.

Since then more than 1,000 people have been killed and 400,000 residents displaced.

"But it could be him, he could be the one tasked to lead their group in the whole of Asia", he said. They were also able to recover 17 hostages. The deaths of Hapilon and Maute signal the end of the militant groups, Ano said.