Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año said Thursday they are becoming confident that Malaysian Dr. Mahmud Ahmed, the alleged financier of the Maute group, was among those killed by government troops Wednesday night.
Año said they received the information on Mahmud’s death from the two rescued hostages, a mother and her 15 to 16 year-old daughter.
“One of the rescued hostages revealed that Mahmud [is] dead and [was] buried last night. We will look for the cadaver,” Año said.
“[The] AFP is increasingly becoming confident that he [Mahmud] was among those ... killed during yesterday’s operations. The process to confirm this with finality, however, is still ongoing. Earlier information regarding this were received from the rescued hostages. We are now working on getting full confirmation,” the military chief said in a press statement.
Meanwhile at a press conference in war-torn Marawi City, Colonel Romeo Brawner, Joint Task Force Marawi deputy commander, said it was possible that Mahmud was among the 13 killed.
“There is a big possibility na kasama si Dr. Mahmud but we will only be definite once we have a match of probably DNA samples or maybe of the dental records and this has to be attested also by SOCO,” Brawner said.
“Ang indications po natin is that there was a belief na nandun po siya among the remaining fighters and it was also revealed by the hostages who were rescued last night,” he added.
Brawner said they are still trying to retrieve the bodies and once retrieved, these will undergo a process of verification.
“Once we have retrieved the bodies of the 13 na namatay, they will go through a process by SOCO, the experts will be the one to determine the identities of these cadavers. Sila ang magma-matach kung meron sa records nila na talagang si Dr. Mahmud nga ‘yung namatay,” he said.
Año said that aside from the 13, government troops were able to neutralize seven more Thursday morning.
“Our operations to flush out and deal with terrorist stragglers has been continuing relentlessly since yesterday. Last night's operations has been very positive. We were able to neutralize 13 rebels and we confirmed this. Early this morning, we were able to get 7 more,” he said.
He said the rescued teenager was injured.
“(We) rescued a mother and her daughter. She is about 15 or 16 years old. She has a splinter wound but out of danger,” he said.
He further said six soldiers have been injured in the operations but most of them are safe since most of the wounds were superficial.
Brawner said the enemies are only occupying less than a hectare of Marawi.
“Less than a hectare na lang but according to revelations of the hostages, these Maute members will fight it out till the end,” he said. — RSJ, GMA News