The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said it has “reason to believe” that Omar Maute remains in the fight in Marawi City while six of his brothers have been killed during a clash in the area.
During a Mindanao Hour news briefing, AFP spokesman Restituto Padilla Jr. said he got word from Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the AFP Western Mindanao Command, that only Omar is leading the terrorist group’s battle against government troops in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
“They have reason to believe that only one of the Maute brothers remains in the fight, and this is Omar. The rest are believed to have been killed,” Padilla told reporters.
The Maute brothers were among terror leaders known to have plotted attacks in Marawi City, just before firefights erupted on May 23.
Padilla said there are a total of seven Maute brothers who are part of the terrorist group behind attacks in the city.
“Sa aming pagkakaalam, mga pitong magkakapatid ‘yan, lahat po ay involved sa grupo. At sa akin nga pong nasabi kanina, ang paniniwala po ng ating mga tropa sa baba ay nag-iisa na lang ‘yung tumatayong nagdidirekta diyan ng bakbakan. At ‘yung iba ay napatay na [To our knowledge, seven siblings are involved in the group. Just like what I said earlier, our troops on the ground believe that only one of them is leading the fight. The others have been killed],” he added.
But the AFP spokesman said the remains of the supposed Maute brothers would have to subjected to DNA testing for them to be absolutely certain about the deaths.
“But just the same, we need to, with finality and certainty, recover their bodies and subject them to DNA testing before a categorical statement can be issued. But information on the ground, along with those revelations from hostages who have gone out of the area, and other information available to the troops point to this development,” Padilla added.
Last week, the military reported that the other key leader of the Maute Group, Omar’s brother Abdullah Maute, was killed in an air strike last month.
Abdullah is believed to be the military commander strategizing for the local terrorist group on the ground.
The military previously reported that Omar was also likely killed in the battle zone.
But it later said that Omar turned out to be alive.
Malacañang earlier announced a P5-million bounty for the “neutralization” of each of the Maute brothers.
As of 7 p.m. Thursday, government placed the death toll in the Marawi fighting at 843, among them 653 terror suspects, 145 government troops and 45 civilians.
Meanwhile, Padilla said the battle area in Marawi City has been reduced to 20 hectares after days of “fierce” close-quarter battle.
“So 20 hectares of land area is where the enemy has been circulating around, and still continuing their fight. Fighting has been very fierce. It has been at close-quarter battle in the area,” he added.|
“But our forces are determined and are focused to seek to end this rebellion as soon as possible,” according to Padilla.