PETALING JAYA: The Philippine armed forces believes that Malaysian militant Amin Baco has already been killed in clashes in Marawi City, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported.
Armed forces spokesman Major-General Restituto Padilla in a message to the media yesterday, said that the military “strongly believes” Baco died during efforts to retake Marawi City from the clutches of the Maute militant group.
This contradicted comments by Philippine police chief Ronaldo dela Rosa yesterday, who said that the Sabahan was still alive and is now the new emir of the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Southeast Asia.
“Contrary to recent pronouncements by some officials that the militant group is now headed by a certain Amin Baco, the armed forces strongly believe 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,” Padilla was quoted as saying by PNA.
He also dismissed any hope of the militants still holding out in Marawi of having any ability to influence the overall security situation in the city where an all-out war broke out between Philippine forces and the pro-Islamic State militant group from May to last month.
“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),” Padillo said, according to PNA.
He added that the armed forces chief of staff Lt-Gen Rey Leonardo Guerrero will be leading the efforts to help the city return to normalcy.
More than 1,100 people, mostly militants, were killed, while 165 soldiers and police officers died in the offensive by Philippine forces to retake the city.