Philippines government conducts mass burials as deadly Marawi siege continues

The longest claimed urban battle that has ravaged the city of Marawi with destroyed buildings, homes and broken families finally ended, declared Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. The nearly five month long battle between the Islamic State Group and the armed forces has finally come to an end after taking a heavy toll.

Philippine Troops had surrounded and captured a building with 40 bodies of suspected gunmen inside on October 16, two security officials told The Associated Press. The officials who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity, said the seige ended.

The final surviving leaders of the seige, including Isnilon Hapilon, who is still listed among the FBI's most-wanted terror suspects in the world, and Omarkhayam Maute, were soon killed by the troops. DNA tests from the United States confirmed Hapilon's death.

Ironic but President Rodrigo Duterte had declared Marawi City liberated six days ago, even though battles were still ongoing. Major General Restituto Padilla said that since that declaration the army had been fighting an enemy decimated by the loss of its leadership. He further confirmed that there were no more terrorists, just gunfire.

A bounty of up to $5million was offered for Hapilon, who had been previously accused of kidnapping of American Nationals and of involvement in other terrorist attacks. In all, 920 militants,165 troops and police and at least 45 civilians were killed in the conflict, which displaced more than 300,000 people, stated authorities.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said by eliminating the extremists, the Philippines had "nipped the budding infrastructure and defeated terrorism." Ever since May 23, 2017 Marawi Seige, banks, shops and houses were ransacked and severed statues in a Roman Catholic Cathedral stand testimony to the worst ever battle fought in recent history against terrorism.