Top ISIS Militant Believed to Have Been Killed in Southern Philippines

Philippine military officials say a top Islamic State militant is believed to have been killed by government forces who liberated the southern city of Marawi earlier this week.

Malaysian-born Mahmud Ahmad was among a group of 20 militants killed in a gun battle early Monday. A military spokesman says it is confident Ahmad was killed based on information provided by two hostages rescued after the firefight. His death will not be confirmed until his body is recovered and DNA tests are conducted.

Ahmad is a close associate of Isnilon Hapilon, who was Islamic State’s leader in Southeast Asia until this week, when he and another key IS figure, Omarkhayam Maute, were both killed in a targeted military operation. Ahmad is believed to have funneled money and fighters to boost the group’s siege of Marawi, a city of 200,000 located on the Muslim-dominated southern island of Mindanao.

Experts say Ahmad would likely take Hapilon’s place as the Islamic State’s point man in the region.

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