MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine police on Tuesday arrested a man who said he was the father of two brothers whose Maute group of Islamist militants led the seizure of southern Marawi City two weeks ago.
The man, who identified himself as Cayamora Maute, was in a vehicle along with a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and a woman believed to be his wife, when it was stopped at a checkpoint in Davao City, regional police official Alexander Tagum told a news conference.
“As a patriarch and the father of the Maute brothers...I guess he can still persuade his sons to stop the fighting in Marawi and once and for all surrender to the government,” regional military spokesman Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay told the same briefing.
The May 23 occupation of Marawi City by hundreds of militants who had pledged allegiance to the ultra-radical group, Islamic State, triggered a brutal urban battle with military forces that entered its third week on Tuesday.
Military officials believe the Maute brothers – Omarkhayam and Abdullah – are holed up in a built-up area of Marawi City. The military earlier said it was investigating a report that one of them had been killed in the fighting.
(Corrects paragraph 3 quote and attribution to Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay)
Reporting by Karen Lema; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Clarence Fernandez