Philippine police are investigating whether one of the senior leaders of extremist group Abu Sayyaf has been killed.
Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who heads a faction of the group affiliated with Daesh, may have died from gunshot injuries suffered during clashes with government troops on the island province of Sulu, according to Filipino media.
The report of his death was received by provincial police and is being verified by the Western Mindanao Command, the Philippine Star reported.
The clashes with around 40 Abu Sayyaf militants took place on Monday in Patikul, on one of several remote islands in the far south of the country where the group has its stronghold.
Sawadjaan was accused of masterminding an attack on a Cathedral in nearby Jolo in 2019 that killed 23 people.
He also oversaw the kidnapping of Arab News’s Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani in 2012 when he was working as a correspondent for Al Arabiya.
Atyani was held for 18 months before he was freed in December 2013.