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Malaysian terrorist killed in Marawi

Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, Malaysia's most wanted terrorist who joined the Islamic State-linked Maute Group, is believed to be among the 20 terrorists killed by government troops in assault operations in Marawi City on Wednesday and Thursday, Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año said.

The overnight clashes came three days after soldiers shot dead terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.

"One of the rescued hostages revealed that Mahmud was dead and buried last night. We will look for the cadaver," Año said.

"[T]he AFP is increasingly becoming confident that he was among those who have been killed during yesterday's operations," he added.

Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy commander of Task Group Ranao, backed Año's statement, saying the hostage who broke the news of Mahmud's death was rescued by soldiers Wednesday night.

Ahmad, a expert on bomb making, reportedly funded the months-long siege in Marawi.

The military said 20 terrorists were killed in the twin military offensives - 13 on Wednesday night and seven on

Thursday. Año said the operations yesterday morning resulted in the rescue of two hostages.

"We were able to neutralize 13 rebels and we confirmed this. [On Thursday] morning, we were able to get seven more [terrorists]and rescued a mother and her daughter," he said.

With Hapilon and Omar Maute one, military officials raised the possibility of Ahmad becoming the next IS "emir" in southeast Asia.

Brawner said state troops were in the process of retrieving the bodies of the terrorists.

"Not all 13 were retrieved because including in the 13 are those who were killed of confirmed sniper shots. So, it means that if the terrorist was killed in a sniper kill, he was in a defensive position but they were hit by snipers so we cannot enter yet enter the defensive position to retrieve the bodies," Brawner said in a news conference in Marawi City.

Once all 13 bodies have been retrieved, these will be identified with by forensic experts.

"There was a belief that [Ahmad] was among the fighters, remaining fighters and it was also revealed by the two hostages who were rescued [on Wednesday]night," he added.

Brawner said Ahmad was among the high-value targets remaining in the main battle area.

"For now we are still trying to determine the remaining numbers [of Maute members in the area]because information provided to us was valuable and the information is still under verification by the Joint Task Force [Marawi]," he said.

Despite the deaths of Hapilon and Omar Maute, terrorists continue to fight soldiers, Brawner said.

"The resistance is organized and the area that are being maneuvered by these terrorists are now at less than hectare only," he added.

"They have established their defensive positions, they were able to hole up and they are using hostages as human shields," he explained.

Urban warfare

The battle for Marawi Citylasted more than four times longer than the US-led campaign to liberate Manila from Japanese World War II occupation forces.

In the process, the military literally destroyed Marawi to save it from gunmen it says are intent on carving out territory for a Southeast Asian caliphate.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana estimates the government will need $1.1 billion to rebuild the city.

On the ground floor of some buildings, soldiers peered warily at the street through holes just big enough for men to crawl through.

These gaps are evidence that the militants who seized the city on May 23 – estimated by military officials to have numbered one thousand – brought in a new style of urban warfare that initially flummoxed Filipino troops.

The militants blasted rat holes through walls to turn hundreds of densely built buildings in the city center into a maze of improvised tunnels to evade relentless air strikes as well as US and Australian spy planes and drones.

They seized hostages, using some as human shields and others as cooks, medics, or grave diggers for dead gunmen.

They also forced captives to loot houses for cash and weapons and even to fight alongside them, the military said.

"These terrorists are using combat tactics that we've seen in the Middle East," US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris told a security forum in Singapore on Tuesday.

It also marked the first time that IS-inspired forces had banded together to fight on such a scale in the region, he added.

Foreign fighters

Of the more than 1,000 dead, the Philippine military and police lost 164 men, with more than a thousand soldiers wounded in house-to-house combat.

Most were hit by improvised explosive devices, snipers and firebombs, as well as shoulder-fired rockets used against armored vehicles.

Forty-seven civilians were killed, while nearly 400,000 others fled their homes, according to official tallies.

The authorities said they believed the gunmen – some of them foreign fighters from nearby Malaysia and Indonesia or as far as Chechnya – stockpiled weapons and food for weeks and possibly months before seizing the city.

Some 882 militants were killed, the military said, with fighting continuing Wednesday at a district near the shore of nearby Lanao lake.

The military said the gunmen had used the large lake as a supply route for food, fuel, weapons and manpower. It then became an escape route as the security noose tightened on them in recent weeks.

[Source: By Dempsey Reyes, The Manila Times, Marawi City, 20Oct17]

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small logoThis document has been published on 09Nov17 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.