Health Care

End of Marawi conflict dawns after death of Omar Maute, Hapilon

End of Marawi conflict dawns after death of Omar Maute, Hapilon

The Philippine military has killed two senior commanders of the Isis-affiliated military groups behind the deadly siege in Marawi City in an operation that defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana believes will lead to "the termination of hostilities in a couple of days".

Earlier this year, the country's President Rodrigo Duterte placed a reward of ten million Philippine pesos ($195,330) for the assassination of Hapilon, who is widely considered the "emir" of Isis in Southeast Asia.

Hapilon is among the terror suspects on the Federal Bureau of Investigation list with a 5-million-U.S. dollars bounty on his head.

"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 explained.

Lorenzana also said that government troops were able to rescue 17 more hostages, leaving more than 20 hostages still in the hands of the terrorists. "We could announce the end of hostilities in a day or two ".

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

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The military previously estimated that they will liberate Marawi by Sunday.

The battle for Marawi began on May 23, when the military launched an operation targeting Hapilon on the island of Mindanao, where Marawi is located.

A top Malaysian militant, Mahmud bin Ahmad, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Handzalah and is a close associate of Hapilon, has not been found and military operations are now ongoing to capture him.

Lorenzana said once fighting stops, "We will refocus our efforts on the challenging task of rebuilding and rehabilitating Marawi".

More than 1,000 people have been killed in the Marawi violence, including more than 800 militants.

With major terrorists eliminated, Zubiri said that rehabilitation, resettlement and development activities can go "full blast".

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The militants have also taken several hostages and used them as shield or fighters during the more than four-month fighting, the military claimed.

"Yes, they are confirmed dead", Lorenzana said, adding DNA tests would be done on the remains of the two militant leaders to pave the way for the payment of huge US and Philippine bounties offered for the two.

Lorenzana said martial law will not be lifted yet.

Their bodies have been recovered, the Defense Department said in a statement.

By month's end, the defense chief will give his recommendation to President Duterte on the possible lifting of martial law in Mindanao, which was declared on May 24 for 60 days, and renewed on July 22 until the end of 2017.

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