Philippines yet to confirm if terrorist Marwan is dead

It's been a month since the air raid by the Philippines army on Jolo Island but the body of Malaysian-born terrorist Zulkifli Hir (C) has not been found fuelling speculation that he may still be alive.

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - It's been a month since the air raid by the Philippines army on Jolo Island but the body of Malaysian-born terrorist Zulkifli Hir @ Marwan has not been found fuelling speculation that he may still be alive.

Special Task Force (Operations and Counter Terrorism) director Commissioner Datuk Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the Philippines army and the Philippines National Police (PNP) had yet to identify any of the 18 bodies as that of Marwan.

"We have been in contact with the police and just a week ago they accepted our DNA samples of Mar-wan's family," he said.

Comm Fuzi said there were various problems which caused the delay in identifying the bodies.

It is learnt that the Philippines army has yet to receive consent from the religious leaders on the island to exhume the bodies to conduct the DNA tests.

Comm Fuzi said Malaysian police had beefed up their sea and border patrols since the incident.

Meanwhile, regional intelligence sources continue to insist that Marwan had escaped the air strike and had most likely fled Jolo Island.

The air raid on Feb 2 was conducted by the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Centre which involves the PNP, army and navy.

Marwan, 45, was described as one of the remaining key terror suspects in South-East Asia with a US$5 million (S$6.2 million) bounty on his head.