By Michael Punongbayan and Roel Pareño
Maute infighting reported as air strikes resume surrenderees executed
MANILA, Philippines - The terrorist leadership in Marawi City is reportedly unraveling as government forces resumed air strikes yesterday to flush out the followers of the Maute brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah and the Abu Sayyaf faction of Isnilon Hapilon, the military said.
Leaders and members of the Maute group are reportedly fighting among themselves and those who want to surrender to authorities were executed.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is verifying reports that Hapilon has abandoned his fighters in Marawi, causing leadership in the terrorist organization to collapse.
The report was based on the accounts of rescued civilians, captured Maute members and radio intercepts of the military from the battle zone.
Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman for Task Force Marawi, said it was not clear yet when Hapilon – said to be the designated emir of the Islamic State (IS) in the Philippines – escaped.
Hapilon’s alleged escape and the reported death of Omarkhayam and terrorist financier Mahmud Ahmad left the Maute group under the command of Abdullah and the remaining ground commanders.
“Their command and control is crumbling,” Herrera said.
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