Marawi, two leaders killed in attack on the last Islamic stronghold

About 40 militants are still fighting in a residential area near Lake Lanao. Terrorists still hold 50-100 hostages. Troops are moving forward with caution. The fighting could end by the end of this week.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – This morning Filipino forces killed the leaders of hundreds of Islamic militants who had seized the town of Marawi, Mindanao Island, on May 23.

Filipino Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute (pictured) died during an offensive led today by government troops, planned by the military to drive the guerrillas out of their last stronghold.

Last week Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte had announced that he expected the fighting to end yesterday. Soldiers pushed into the last known militant stronghold backed by air strikes and Special Forces. One soldier died and at least another 20 were wounded in the operation.

Yesterday, Army Colonel Romeo Brawner said that more than a thousand people have been killed in fighting in Marawi, including at least 800 militants.

He noted that about 40 militants are still holding out in a small residential area near Lake Lanao. With them are a hundred relatives, plus civilians still held hostage.

Military spokesman General Restituto Padilla said the fighting could be over by the end of this week, adding that at least 17 hostages, including a woman and a newborn, were freed in today's offensive.

He also noted that troops are moving forward with caution out of concerns for the safety of 50 to 100 people still in the hands of terrorists.