KOTA KINABALU: Ten militants surrendered to Philippine security forces in the besieged Marawi City in southern Mindanao this afternoon but the whereabouts of Malaysia’s most wanted terrorist Mahmud Ahmad were still unknown.
It was also not immediately known whether one of the 10 who surrendered was Mahmud.
FMT learnt the search for Mahmud had switched to the coroner’s office where the authorities were attempting to identify 13 bodies of suspected militants killed in a government offensive last night.
FMT this morning reported that the Philippine military said there was a “high possibility” that Mahmud was one of those killed.
The authorities said they were hoping to identify Mahmud using DNA tests and dental records.
They said they were unsure whether the 10 who surrendered did so because they had been disheartened by a report that their leaders deserted them.
The military claimed yesterday the militants had been abandoned by their top two leaders, Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, during the duo’s foiled escape early Monday.
Around noon today, the Philippine military announced that seven militants were killed this morning in what was believed to have been the latest clashes with the pro-Islamic State (IS) terrorists.
Following the killings of Isnilon, the IS emir-designate for Southeast Asia, and Maute militant group co-founder Omar, the Philippine army announced that some 20-30 “straggling militants”, including Mahmud, remained holed up in the main battle area in Marawi.
Mahmud, a religious scholar reported to be a respected frontline fighter, expert bomb-maker and militant recruiter, had been tipped to be the next IS emir for the region following Isnilon’s death.