Philippines: Malaysian financier believed killed in siege

Debris and fire is seen after an OV-10 Bronco aircraft released a bomb during an airstrike as government forces continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group who have taken over large parts of Marawi City Philippines

Government troops head for a continuing military operation against Muslim militants who lay siege in Marawi city Friday, May 26, 2017 at Bal-oi township, Lanao del Norte province in southern Philippines.

Malacañang is still uncertain if President Rodrigo Duterte will extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

"He (Hapilon) has not been seen in the area".

Maute and Abu Sayyaf are the most active groups on the island of Mindanao, scene of an old Islamic separatist conflict that caused between 100,000 and 150,000 deaths in the last four decades.

Hapilon was indicted in Washington for his involvement in the 2001 kidnapping of three Americans in the Philippines, and has a $5-million bounty on his head from the United States government, which has his name on its "most wanted" terror list.

Security analysts say he has been recognized by IS as its "amir", or leader, in Southeast Asia, a region where the group wants to establish a caliphate. The military says Hapilon's group had joined forces with another armed militancy, the Maute Group, to launch the Marawi siege, now in its second month.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the "humanitarian pause" in military assaults will take effect at 6 a.m. Sunday in predominantly Muslim Marawi but will be lifted immediately if the militants open fire or threaten troops and civilians. "We have gained substantial ground", said Galvez, the military commander. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the video, which was seized by troops May 23. A local militant leader, Omarkhayam Maute, also is believed to have been killed in the early days of intense fighting and troops were looking for their remains to validate the intelligence the military had received.

The Philippine army said that the resistance of the terrorist group declined after a month of fighting, and its area of ​​operations was reduced to one square kilometer.

The Philippine military has declared an eight-hour halt to its air and ground offensive against Islamic militants aligned with the Islamic State group in southern Marawi city to allow residents, a lot of them displaced, to celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.


Troops are seeking the help of villagers to pinpoint the exact spot where Mahmud was reportedly buried, Ano said.

"We can just bomb them away or use napalm bombs to burn everything, but then, we will not be any different from them if we do that", he said.

Mahmud was wounded in the fighting last month and reportedly died on June 7, Ano said.

But late yesterday, Malaysia's police chief, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, said the report was untrue, without saying how he knew this. "He is still alive".

It is possible that the foreigners entered the Philippines through the southern backdoor, where the point of entry is Mindanao via Indonesia or Malaysia, he added.

The Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia have agreed to jointly develop and implement counter-terrorism measures and strategies to prevent future terrorist attacks in the region.

Philippine security forces claimed to have identified three Bangladeshi nationals among the 89 suspected Islamist militants who holed up in southern town Mindanao since May 23.

Galvez said troops yesterday recovered two decomposing corpses that bore features of people from the Middle East. "Our assessment is that they will really fight to the end", Padilla said, also on DZBB.

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