Philippine troops have captured a building where pro-ISIS militants made their final stand in southern Marawi city and found about 40 bodies of suspected gunmen inside, two security officials say. The officials say the seizure of the building and the defeat of the militants will allow the military to declare later on Monday the end of the Marawi siege, which hundreds of black flag-waving gunmen launched exactly five months ago, the AP reports. The two officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make public the latest developments in Marawi, where government forces have begun a gradual withdrawal as the fighting considerably eased in recent days.
It was not immediately clear how the dozens of suspected militants found in the two-story building near Lake Lanao died, but it's possible some committed suicide after they were cornered by troops, one of the officials says. Last Monday, troops killed the final two surviving leaders of the siege, including Isnilon Hapilon, who is listed among the FBI's most-wanted terror suspects in the world. Following their deaths, President Rodrigo Duterte traveled near the main scene of battle and declared Marawi had been essentially liberated from terrorist influence, although skirmishes with a few dozen gunmen continued. Army Col. Romeo Brawner says all hostages held by the militants have been freed and any remaining gunmen have the option of surrendering before they are captured or killed.