MARAWI CITY (MindaNews/16 October) — A sniper headshot killed Omar Maute, one of the leaders of the ISIS-inspired Maute terror group who led a five-month siege in Marawi City.
Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the “Emir of ISIS in the Philippines” was killed with three bullets to his chest as he tried to run.
Hapilon and Maute were killed as they tried to escape to another building to avoid an assault force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Special Forces and the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force units Monday dawn.
The military’s target to end the crisis was Sunday, October 15.
“I am confirming the (touted) Emir of ISIS in the Philippines and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and the last of the dreaded Maute brothers, Omar, are both dead,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Ano said.
“Hapilon and Omar were both neutralized during the dawn raid today,” Ano told a press briefing in Kampo Ranao, headquarters of the Army’s103rd Infantry Brigade.
Ano said eight other ISIS-Maute gunmen were killed with Hapilon and Omar as they made a dash to another building to escape the attacking troops.
He said the troops were able to rescue 20 hostages including a two-month old baby girl born inside the war zone.
Ano said there was still an ongoing firefight to free the remaining 22 hostages still being held by 30 ISIS gunmen that include six foreign fighters.
“We will not allow terrorism to reign in Marawi City or elsewhere in the country,” he said .
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said it was the information provided by the young hostage who “was able to escape” last Saturday that allowed the troops to locate the hostages and the gunmen.
“The troops suspected the building but it was the information provided that we were able to ascertain where they were hiding,” Lorenzana said.
On Sunday night, Special Forces teams moved into the building under the cover of heavy rain.
Lorenzana said the first contact with the terrorists came past 3 a.m. but the troops who were equipped with night vision goggles (NVG) gained the upper hand.
Seeing they were about to be surrounded, Hapilon and Omar got out from the building and dashed to another building at the back.
They were met however by troops supported by an M113A2 armoured personnel carrier (APC) which was equipped with Remote Controlled Weapons System which can see through the dark.
Ano said Omar was shot by a sniper while Hapilon was killed with three bullets to his chest.
“Isnilon Hapilon died fighting. He was armed with R4 rifle with optics while Omar was armed with an M4 rifle,” Ano said, adding Hapilon and Omar tried to escape the encirclement and prepared several bancas.
He said the attempt failed.
“We monitored that Hapilon was offering huge amount of money for anyone who can get them out. No help came,” Ano narrated.
Lorenzana said the two dead terrorist leaders will be given proper Muslim burial after DNA tests have been conducted.
He said the DNA test is important since Hapilon had a US$5 million bounty (approximately 256 million pesos) offered by the US government for the kidnapping of American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham in 2001.
The Philippine government also offered P10 million for the capture of Hapilon and P5 million for Omar Maute. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)