THE military on Friday said there were “strong indications” Omarkhayam “Omar” Maute, one of the leaders of the Islamic State-linked Maute group that attacked Marawi City, died in a firefight with government troops last month.
Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesman for the military’s Joint Task Force Marawi, said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was still “validating” Omar’s killing amid ongoing clashes.
“We have no confirmation yet, but we have strong indications [that Omar could be dead],” he said in a text message sent to reporters.
Sought for clarification if such “strong indications” meant that Omar was killed, Herrera replied: “Yes but [it is]still for validation.”
In a news conference in Marawi City, Herrera said Omar Maute, one of the two Maute brothers who founded the local terrorist group, was likely killed during an encounter with military troops.
On Thursday, AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said Omar was “more or less” dead, but brother Abdullah was still alive in Marawi City.
Omar and Abdullah led the siege of the Islamic City of Marawi. With them was Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who had also been reported dead. Fighting in the city marked its first month on Thursday.
The Maute brothers’ parents, Cayamora and Farhana, and other kin were arrested by authorities earlier this month.
Cayamora and Farhana are detained in a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
The fighting in Marawi prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the whole island of Mindanao under martial law last May 23.
At least 280 terrorists have been killed by government troops, with more than 200 firearms confiscated. On the government side, 69 men have been killed.
Fighting has also claimed the lives of 26 civilians.