ISIS resurgence in PH unlikely after deaths of Maute Group leaders

FILE Winston Winnie Castelo

The FBI had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to Hapilon's apprehension or conviction for a litany of alleged crimes, including hostage taking, murder, and terrorist activities.

Around 40 Maute fighters were believed to be holed up within a two-hectare area near Lanao Lake in the devastated city, Brawner said.

The minister explained that a female hostage who escaped the militants' captivity helped locate Hapilon and Maute in one of the buildings in the main battle area in Marawi city.

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.

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.

Meanwhile, Lorenzana has said that their troops are now searching for Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Ahmad, who is believed to be a financier of the terrorist group. Omarkhayam Maute is the brother of Maddi Maute, who was reportedly killed earlier in the gun battle.

"After the fighting stops, we will refocus our efforts on the challenging task of rebuilding and rehabilitating Marawi", said Lorenzana, also head of Task Force Bangon Marawi. More than 350,000 people from Marawi and its nearby towns have been displaced by the fighting.

The siege has sparked fears that the Islamic State group may gain a foothold in Southeast Asia by influencing and providing funds to local militants as it suffers battle defeats in Syria and Iraq.

Lorenzana said there are still around "21 or 22" hostages held by the terrorists.

The military said they have also recovered more than 800 high-powered firearms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

He said after the cessation of hostilities in Marawi "within this week", they will "assess the entire Mindanao if there is a need to recommend to the President the lifting of martial law".

Trillanes, meanwhile, said that it is now time to go all out in the rebuilding of Marawi City "to start the healing process for all those affected by the war".

Lorenzana said martial law will not be lifted yet. He has vowed to have the militants killed to the last man because of the deaths and destruction wrought by the violence in Marawi. Large swaths of the city, especially in the central business district, are a pock-marked moonscape of heavily damaged buildings, shops and houses.

It will take billions of pesos to rebuild the ruined city, according to Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who said that the extent of destruction is far greater than expected.

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