Arms seized in raid on house of suspected MILF rebel in Kiamba

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 December) – Army and police personnel in Sarangani province allegedly seized several rifle and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) in a raid Tuesday on a house owned by a suspected Moro rebel who had been charged in connection with the daring attack in Maasim town more than two years ago that left two people dead.

Senior Supt. Florendo Quidilla, Sarangani police director, said Wednesday the explosives, including a firearm and several ammunition, were recovered inside the house of suspect Mando Leonsili in Purok 4, Barangay Katubao in Kiamba, Sarangani.

But he said the suspect, who was allegedly a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) special operations group, eluded arrest after managing to escape prior to the dawn raid.

Recovered during the raid, which was launched by elements from the Sarangani Provincial Police Office and the 73rd Infantry Battalion were four live rifle grenades, three live RPGs, an RPG tube, a FAL rifle with a magazine and 20 rounds of ammunition.

The police official said they launched the operation based on search warrant 10-21 issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 38 in Alabel, Sarangani.

He said the same court had issued a warrant of arrest for murder, frustrated murder, arson and robbery against Leonsili and 48 other alleged “rogue MILF members,” who were tagged as behind the August 18, 2008 attack at the public market, police station and municipal hall complex of Maasim town in Sarangani.

“Our records showed that he was among those who had direct participation in the planning and execution of the attack,” he said.

The attackers were allegedly under the MILF’s 107th command based at the fallen Camp Khalid bin Walid in Barangay Daliao in Maasim town.

Authorities earlier said the Maasim attack was planned and led by former henchmen of Ameril Umbra Kato of the MILF’s 105th MILF base command, which is based in Maguindanao province.

According to the arrest warrant, the attack was allegedly led by MILF commanders Alo Binago, Taha Maguid Sapal alias Kumander Taha, Manawi Ibrahim alias Kumander Lawin and Jayon Saligan alias Kumander Aguilar.

Meantime, Quidilla said they turned over the recovered explosives, firearm and ammunition to RTC Branch 38 on Wednesday and immediately filed charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against the fugitive suspect.

He said they dispatched a police tracking team and deployed additional intelligence personnel to track down the whereabouts of the suspects and other co-accused in the Maasim attack. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)

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