Duterte declares Marawi liberated

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (center), is joined by other government and military officials as they visit troops in Marawi, southern Philippines on Tuesday Oct 17. Duterte has declared the southern city of Marawi liberated though the military continues to battle a dwindling band of Muslim militants. (AP)

MANILA, Oct 17, (Agencies): Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared the southern city of Marawi liberated from pro-Islamic State militants on Tuesday, although the military said 20-30 rebels were holding about 20 hostages and still fighting it out.

In a rousing address to soldiers a day after the killing of two commanders of the rebel alliance, Duterte said he would never again allow militants to stockpile so many weapons, but Marawi was now free and it was time to heal wounds and rebuild. “I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from terrorist influence, that marks the beginning of rehabilitation,” Duterte, wearing a camouflage cap and dark sunglasses, said during his unannounced visit.

Isnilon Hapilon, who was wanted by the United States and was Islamic State’s Southeast Asian “emir”, and Omarkhayam Maute, one of two brothers central to the alliance, were killed in a targeted operation on Monday. Their bodies were recovered and identified, authorities said.

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