Manila: The FBI has said that DNA analysis indicates one of the world's most wanted terrorists, Bali bomber Zulkifli bin Hir, was likely killed in a Philippine police raid last month that also claimed the lives of 44 commandos.
The hunt for Zulkifli ended at his hideout on remote farmland in the southern island of Mindanao just before dawn on January 25. Philippines media on Thursday ran a photo purportedly showing his dead body, sprawled in a hut and in a blood-soaked shirt.
A top militant in the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), he is a key suspect in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings which killed 202 people, as well as two deadly Philippine blasts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tested a sample from the body identified by Philippine police as Zulkifli, David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said in a statement sent to AFP.
"As we have reported to our Philippine law enforcement partners, preliminary results indicate that the DNA profiles obtained from the biological sample indicate a possible relationship with a known relative of Zulkifli," he said.
"Although the results of the DNA examinations do not provide absolute identification, the results do support that the biological sample provided by Philippine authorities came from Marwan," he said, using the militant's alias.
The death would be a boost for President Benigno Aquino, who has been heavily criticised over the botched Mindanao raid which descended into chaos when police were ambushed by rebel forces.
The US State Department had put up a USD 5 million reward for Zulkifli, a multilingual, American-trained engineer who is believed to have hidden amongst Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines since 2003.
The military and police say he had instructed local militants on the manufacture and use of improvised explosive devices.