A body believed to be that of the first Singaporean militant killed in weeks-long clashes in the besieged Marawi City in the southern Philippines has been recovered, security officials said yesterday.
"A cadaver of a foreign-looking individual was... recovered by troops. It is believed that it is one of the reported foreign fighters from Singapore," Joint Task Force Marawi said in a statement.
A task force official added: "The assessment is he is one of the Singaporeans reported to have joined the terrorists, but we cannot give further details at the moment."
He declined to say how the man's nationality had been ascertained.
But a source in Marawi told The Straits Times that some foreign fighters had travel papers on them.
In response to queries, Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said: "We are currently in touch with the Philippines authorities to gather more information on the identity of the supposed Singaporean killed in Marawi."
A large gathering of Muslim missionaries convened by Tablighi Jamaat, a non-political Islamic missionary movement, is said to have provided cover for dozens of foreign militants to sneak into Marawi.
Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, the military spokesman, and Solicitor-General Jose Calida said in May that Singaporeans were among those fighting in Marawi.
Intelligence sources said as many as 40 of the 500 fighters who overran Marawi on May 23, in an audacious bid to turn it into a "province" of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), came from overseas.
Militants still occupy parts of Marawi, despite a United States- backed offensive there that has claimed more than 460 lives and displaced nearly 400,000 people.
Officials said yesterday that 11 foreign militants had been killed in Marawi. They included two Malaysians, two Saudis and two Indonesians, and one each from Yemen, Chechnya and India. The officials did not say whether the 11 included the Singaporean.
Four Malaysians known to have travelled to Mindanao to join militant groups included Mahmud Ahmad, a university lecturer who was one of the plotters of the Marawi siege. He helped recruit Malaysians to fight for Isnilon Hapilon, who ISIS named as head of its South- east Asia wing.
The Indonesian authorities believe 38 of their citizens went to the southern Philippines to join ISIS- affiliated groups, and about 22 of them joined the fighting in Marawi. But an Indonesian law enforcement source said the actual number involved in the battle could be more than 40.