Malaysian among militants who can succeed IS regional chief

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — An official says two militants, one Filipino and the other Malaysian, who survived the crushing of a siege of a southern Philippine city last year are among the leading candidates to succeed a slain Islamic State group regional leader as the rebels attempt to recover from setbacks.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Tuesday that Filipino Humam Abdul Najid and Malaysian Amin Baco are among several Muslim militant commanders in the south who could succeed Isnilon Hapilon, who led the devastating siege of Marawi city. Troops killed Hapilon in a final battle in which they crushed the five-month siege.

The military declared that Baco was killed, but Esperon said his body has not been found and reports indicate he is still alive and hiding somewhere in the south.