Philippine forces on Friday killed one of the country’s most wanted militant leaders and his wife, both of whom were aligned with ISIS and had been blamed for deadly bombings, killings and extortion in the south for more than a decade, the military said.
Army and police forces raided the hideout of the militant group Daulah Islamiya in a remote area of Talayan in Maguindanao province and killed its leader, Salahuddin Hassan, and his wife in a 30-minute gun battle before dawn.
More than two dozen other militants managed to escape, regional military commander Maj Gen Juvymax Uy said.
Assault rifles, ammunition and documents were seized by troops at the scene of the battle, Maj Gen Uy added.
Hassan and his group were reportedly involved in a number of bombings aimed at extorting money from businesses and transport companies.
One of the most prominent attacks was the 2016 bombing of a night market that left 15 people dead and scores wounded in Davao City, President Rodrigo Duterte’s home town, the military said.
The group was also blamed for the 2014 bombing of a bus in the south that killed 11 people and wounded 15 others.
In June, his men burnt a bus in M’lang town in southern Cotabato province in an attack that killed four people and injured several others, the military said.
Hassan founded the extortion group Al Khobar, which was blamed for bombings, extortion and other attacks from 2007 to 2015.
He was trained by rebel commander Basit Usman, a notorious bombmaker, and a Malaysian militant, Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, military officials stated. They were among South-East Asia’s most wanted militants before they were killed by government forces.
Daulah Islamiya is one of a number of small but violent groups which pledged allegiance to ISIS and rejected a 2014 autonomy deal between the largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the Philippine government under a peace pact brokered by Malaysia.
The Moro rebels are now among the administrators of an autonomous region in the south, homeland of minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic nation.
Hassan also reportedly provided bombmaking training to militants belonging to the Abu Sayyaf group, said a former Abu Sayyaf militant captured by government forces.
The group has been blamed for bombings, kidnappings and beheadings and was declared a terrorist organisation by the Philippines and the US.