THIRTEEN members of the remaining Islamic State linked-Maute group were killed in a firefight Wednesday night, with the military trying to determine whether the Malaysian terrorist and alleged Maute financier was among the dead, officials said on Thursday.
Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., Task Group Ranao deputy commander, said the military did not have all the bodies yet and ensured that the identity of Dr. Mahmud Ahmad was being verified.
“We are still in the process of retrieving these cadavers. So until now, we cannot give a categorical answer that Doctor Mahmud was among the fatalities in last night’s encounter,” Brawner said in Filipino in a televised press briefing in Marawi City on Thursday.
In a separate statement, Armed Forces Chief Eduardo Año confirmed the deaths of the 13 terrorists in the main battle zone, adding that troops were also able to rescue two more hostages early Thursday morning.
Año also expressed confidence that Ahmad was among those killed in the fighting.
“The AFP is increasingly becoming confident that he was among those who have been killed during yesterday’s operations. The process to confirm this with finality, however, is still ongoing,” he said.
Ahmad escaped the military assault on the terrorists on Monday in Marawi where two of their top leaders — Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute — were killed. ROS DIAZ