The leader of a Mindanao terrorist group reported as the current head of the Southeast Asean cell of the dreaded Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is now in charge of terrorists fighting government troops in Marawi City.
Military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said Isnilon Totoni Hapilon remains in the city and is calling the shots for the terrorists.
“He’s in charge. He’s commanding them,” Herrera said in a report in ABS/CBNnews.com.
Hapilon is the leader of the Abu Sayyaf that has gained international notoriety for beheading its foreign hostages.
Abu Sayyaf gunmen teamed up with another terrorist group, the Maute Group, in the May 22 afternoon attack in Marawi City.
The attack was reportedly triggered by a botched military raid that aimed to arrest Hapilon.
Late night of the day while on an official visit in Russia, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao and ordered a military assault against the terrorists who invaded the capital city of Lanao del Sur in western Mindanao.
The military said a hundred more members of the Maute Group and Abu Sayyad Group are holding forth in private houses and public buildings.
A total of 120 militant gunmen have been killed, including suspected foreign fighters, since the firefight started on May 23.
The death toll from the 11-day-old firefights, as of June 2, is 175 including 19 civilians killed in crossfire or by the militants.
Tne predominantly Muslim city of Marawi of 200,000 people has practically become a dead city with residents evacuating in masse as the fighting raged during the week.
The military said about 2,000 are trapped in the ongoing clashes, used as human shields by the terrorists.