MANILA -- The military strongly believes that Malaysian bomber Amin Baco was among those killed in the heavy fighting during efforts to retake Marawi City from the clutches of the Maute Group.
This was disclosed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Major Gen. Restituto Padilla in a message Monday, contrary to claims made by Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa that Baco is now the new ISIS emir in Southeast Asia.
"Contrary to recent pronouncements by some officials that it is now headed by a certain Amin Baco, the AFP strongly believes that the group is now leaderless and without direction. Amin Baco is believed to have been among those killed in Marawi recently. Baco's remains is now the subject of an ongoing aggressive search," he added.
Padilla also denied that the remaining Maute Group stragglers will be able to influence the overall security situation of the conflict-hit city.
"The AFP following its successful combat operations in Marawi City is aggressively pursuing its clearing operations. Clearing operations are focused on the remaining areas of Marawi believed to hold terrorist stragglers fighting for survival and hiding it out in the hope of escaping the MBA (main battle area)," he added.
Also, Padilla said AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, assures the residents of Marawi that the military is doing its best to expedite the city's return to normalcy.
Around 923 Maute Group terrorists and their allies were killed in the five-month campaign against the terror group which started last May 23. One hundred sixty five soldiers and police officers were killed in the offensive which only ended on October 23.
On Monday, Dela Rosa claimed that Baco is now the new ISIS emir in Southeast Asia following the death of Hapilon in Marawi City last October 16.
He also claimed that around 39 Maute Group stragglers are still hiding in Marawi City. (PNA)