MANILA: The Philippine military said on Friday that it had killed the top leader of Daulah Islamiyah, a group suspected of carrying out a series of deadly attacks in the country’s south.
Salahuddin Hassan died in a clash with government troops in Talayan, Maguindanao province in the early hours of Friday, the military said in a press briefing.
“Salauddin Hassan, also known as Orak, the overall amir of Daulah Islamiyah-Philippines and most wanted Daulah Islamiya terrorist, was neutralized by government security forces during the conduct of a joint military and police operation at Sitio Pinareng, Barangay Damablac, Talayan, Maguindanao early morning today, October 29, 2021,” Army 6th Infantry Division chief and Joint Task Force Central commander Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy said.
He added that Hassan’s wife, Jehana Mimbida, who reportedly ran the group’s finances, was also killed as they tried to evade arrest. Their bodies were recovered along with rifles and ammunition magazines.
Known also as Abu Salman and Abu Saif, Hassan and his group were blamed for bombings, extor- tion and other attacks in Central Mindanao between 2007 and 2015.
He was trained by slain Filipino bombmaker Basit Usman and Malaysian militant Zulkifli Abdhir, or Marwan, who were among Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorists.
The military said that Hassan’s group was also involved in the 2014 Maramag Bukidnon rural transit bus bombing, which left 11 people dead, and a night market bombing in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, Davao City, in September 2016, which left 14 people dead and dozens injured. In 2018, the group was behind a twin bombing that killed five civilians and injured 40 others in Isulan city in the province of Sultan Kudarat.
The military described Hassan’s death as a major blow to the militant group.
“With the death of Hassan, the Daulah Islamiyah terror group nears its end,” Uy said. “With the help of the community and other stakeholders, we can defeat these terrorist groups and realize our desire of a safe and peaceful community.”
Besides Daulah Islamiyah, several other Daesh-inspired groups have been active in Mindanao, including the Abu Sayyaf, notorious for bombings, kidnappings for ransom, assassinations and extortion.