Philippines Army says Islamists making 'last stand' in Marawi

"We do not know if he will be considered as the emir for Southeast Asia".

Lorenzana told a news conference, "Yes they are confirmed dead".

Malaysian militant leader Mahmud Ahmad was still in Marawi, with authorities describing him as the "conduit" between IS and local militant groups.

The minister explained that a female hostage who escaped the militants' captivity helped locate Hapilon and Maute in one of the buildings in the main battle area in Marawi city.

The Philippine military has killed two senior commanders of the Isis-affiliated military groups behind the deadly siege in Marawi City in an operation that defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana believes will lead to "the termination of hostilities in a couple of days".

Lorenzana said IS Southeast Asian "emir" Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute were among the fatalities in the early morning fighting.

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Mr Duterte spoke in Marawi before an audience of troops at a ruined school campus about a kilometre from the area where fighting continues.

"Once more, CBCP is the hapless victim of fake news", CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.

Military spokesman Restituto Padilla said about six to eight foreign fighters were among the militants left in the lakeside city.

He said the terrorists are still holding about 20 hostages.

Islamic State (IS)-linked militants were putting up fierce resistance as government forces continued a bloody offensive to retake the southern Philippine city of Marawi, an army commander said on Sunday.

Ahmad is also reported to be a university lecturer in his home country in charge of raising finances from overseas for the jihadists and recruitment.

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Philippines security forces had laid siege to the city on 23 May after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law in the region to conduct the anti-terror operation against Isis-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Maute group.

While he acknowledged the killing of Hapilon and Maute as a major victory for the government, Martinez said they are not ruling out the possibility that the slain terrorist leaders have followers who may take their place.

Since then more than 1,000 people have been killed and 400,000 residents displaced as insurgents were hit with a relentless bombing campaign and intense ground battles with troops.

The directive included tightening border security to prevent militants from moving around Mindanao.

The Philippine government had also offered a five million peso reward for Omar Maute.

Padilla said troops were trying their best to make Marawi safe from bombs and booby traps.

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