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November 22 2017, 01:35 | Irvin Gilbert
Pro-IS militants continue fierce fight in Philippines' Marawi
Lorenzana said the Marawi siege does not end with the killing of Hapilon and Maute.
Four military and police officials earlier told The Associated Press that Isnilon Hapilon, who is listed among the FBI's most-wanted terror suspects, and Omarkhayam Maute were killed in a gunbattle and their bodies were found Monday.
Military leaders had said last month that three leaders of the Islamic State-linked militants who besieged the southern city were killed in the months of fighting but the two still alive were leading a final stand. Hapilon is an Abu Sayyaf leader, while Maute is one of the founders of the group that bears his family name.
Ano said troops are focused on rescuing the remaining hostages, which number around 22.
The Philippine government had offered a 10m Philippines peso bounty for Hapilon on top of the $5m reward offered by the US.
Philippine authorities have made several previous announcements on the imminent end of the conflict, but observers believe this time the forecast is likely to be accurate.
As the fight between the Philippine security forces and ISIS-linked terrorists in Marawi continues, state security officials reportedly announced that two key terror leaders were eliminated in a gunfight between the sides Monday morning. More than 1,000 people have been killed, including about 800 militants. Duterte has imposed martial law across the southern third of the Philippines to quell the militant threat.
"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.
Brawner said: "We are trying our best (to meet the military's self-imposed October 15 target), our troops are fighting hard".
Maute was the leader of the Maute group, which was founded by him and his brother Abdullah. There were still 22 hostages left along with 39 relatives of the militants, they added.
Marawi is Lanao del Sur's capital and largest city.
Ano added with Hapilon and Maute dead, the equation may change. "This means their centre of gravity has crumbled", he told reporters.
However an analyst said the deaths of the leaders would likely prompt retaliatory attacks from their followers and allies, with young leaders seeking to take their place.
The rebel alliance in Marawi is comprised of fighters from the Maute group, Abu Sayyaf, and aided by foreigners from countries that include Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and some Middle East states.