MANILA — One of Asia’s most-wanted terrorists was killed Monday in the southern city of Marawi, the Philippine authorities said, after thousands of government troops pushed over the weekend to reclaim the town from Islamist militants.
The terrorist who died, Isnilon Hapilon, was the leader of Abu Sayyaf, a militant group affiliated with the Islamic State that has held parts of Marawi since May. The police provided a photo of Mr. Hapilon’s body as proof of his death.
Mr. Hapilon and another militant leader, Omarkhayam Maute, led a final stand against government troops that ended with both men’s deaths in a predawn gunfight Monday.
More than 1,000 people, including 800 militants, have been killed since the terrorist groups overran the city five months ago. The government escalated its efforts to end the standoff this weekend. At least 20 soldiers, including a colonel, were wounded in the latest fighting.
Seventeen hostages, including children, were rescued by troops this weekend. Security analysts were cautiously optimistic that fighting could end this week, but they warned that other militant leaders could fill the void left by Mr. Hapilon’s death.
“Our units in the front line are continuing with their offensives to neutralize the remaining terrorists and rescue their hostages to end the crisis in Marawi,” said Col. Edgard Arevalo, a military spokesman.
Mr. Hapilon’s group, Abu Sayyaf, earned a reputation for brutality, including kidnappings and beheadings. In 2001, he organized the abduction of 20 hostages, including three Americans from a resort. Two of the Americans were murdered, an act that led the F.B.I. to put Mr. Hapilon on its most-wanted list and offer $5 million for his capture.
Mr. Hapilon became the leader of Abu Sayyaf in the 1990s after disavowing the Moro National Liberation Front, a Muslim separatist group that had signed a peace pact with the Philippine government.
Under Mr. Hapilon’s leadership, Abu Sayyaf earned a reputation for being the most violent of the Philippines’ armed Muslim factions.
Terrorism analysts said Mr. Hapilon’s death would not lead to the immediate end of hostilities in the south.
“This is a setback,” said Rommel Banlaoi, the executive director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, “but terrorist threats will take a new form and continue to challenge the government.”
“There are other leaders who are expected to take his place who still have the intention to wreak havoc,” Mr. Banlaoi said.
Mr. Banlaoi warned of “retaliatory attacks” from Puruji Indama, an Abu Sayyaf lieutenant who remains at large on the island of Basilan, also in the south.
“It’s not over yet,” Mr. Banlaoi said. “Violence will take a new form after Hapilon.”