Manila - Leading Islamist militant Isnilon Hapilon, who is on the United States' list of "most wanted terrorists", has been killed in the battle to reclaim a rebel-held Philippines city, the defence minister said on Monday.
Security analysts describe Hapilon as the leader of the Islamic State group in Southeast Asia, where the jihadist outfit wants to establish a caliphate as they suffer battlefield defeats in Iraq and Syria.
"(Our troops) were able to get Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute. They were both killed," Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters, referring to another fighter who led the attack with Hapilon on the southern Philippines city of Marawi city in May.
The US government had offered an US$5 million (S$6.8 million) bounty for information leading to Hapilon's arrest, describing the 51-year-old as a senior leader of the southern Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf group, which the US considers a "foreign terrorist organisation".
Lorenzana said Philippine ground forces mounting a final assault on the militants in Marawi killed Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute, one of two brothers who lead a militant group allied to Hapilon, early Monday.