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AFP: Amin Baco believed dead, not the head of ISIS in Southeast Asia

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday stood by its findings that Malaysian terrorist Amin Baco was among those killed in the government forces' offensive against Maute-ISIS bandits in Marawi City.

AFP spokesman Major General Restituto Padilla said the military believed that Baco was already dead and that the Maute group was now without a leader.

This was contrary to the statement given by Indonesian terrorist Mohammad Ilham Syahputra to the Philippine National Police.

“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,” Padilla said in a press statement.

“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.

Earlier in the day, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Syahputra, who was arrested in Marawi last week, told investigators that Baco had been chosen to be the emir of the ISIS in Southeast Asia.

“We received report na si Amin Baco na ang pumalit kay Isnilon Hapilon. Si Amin Baco, leader hindi lang sa remaining Maute but as an emir of Southeast Asia ISIS,” Dela Rosa said.

Padilla said that following the military's successful combat operations in Marawi City, the troops are now aggressively pursuing 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)," Padilla said.

He denied that the remaining stragglers would affect the security situation in the city. 

“General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Chief of Staff, AFP assures the residents of Marawi that the AFP is doing its best to expedite the city's return to normalcy,” Padilla said.

At least nine Maute stragglers, including Ibrahim Maute alias Abu Jamil, a cousin of Maute brothers Omar and Abdulah, have been killed in an operation in Marawi Sunday.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command commander, the military was also looking for Mahalan, an Indonesian national, and Abdullah Hapilon, son of Isnilon.

“‘Yung si Mahalam, ‘yung isang Indonesian, at ‘yung anak ni Isnilon na natitira, si Abdullah Hapilon, ‘yun ang  pinakahinahanap natin. I gave the direction to our ground commanders that once we get Amin Bacu we already break the chain of the Maute  ISIS and the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao,” he told reporters during the heroes welcome for troops at Villamor Airbase. —NB, GMA News