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Abu Sayyaf ex-leader may have escaped Philippine city

ABU SAYYAF EX-LEADER MAY HAVE ESCAPED PHILIPPINE CITY

Abu Sayyaf's former leader who has been appointed "emir of all [Daesh] forces in the Philippines," may have slipped government forces in Marawi city, a military official said Saturday.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez said Isnilon Hapilon has not been seen in Marawi where militants have battled military troops for the past month after gunmen stormed the lakeside city of about 200,000 residents in late May.

"We have some reports that he was already able to slip somewhere, but as of now we are still confirming the reports," Galvez said during a radio interview, adding that Hapilon's group sustained a lot of casualties.

Reports of Hapilon's escape from Marawi surfaced as early as two weeks ago but was shrugged off by authorities.

"There are actually conflicting reports of him still inside and his [reported escape]," defense chief Delfin Lorenzana was quoted earlier this month by the Manila Bulletin.

Hapilon is one of the U.S.'s most wanted with a $5 million bounty for his capture for his alleged participation in the 2000 Dos Palmas kidnappings of 17 Filipinos and three Americans.

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