Victims or bandits? Civilian slain, cop wounded in Basilan ‘encounter’

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/17 March) – A civilian was killed while a policeman was critically wounded in an incident Thursday in Basilan which drew conflicting statements from top military and police officials in the province.

Col. Alex Macario, Special Operations Task Force-Basilan (SOTF-B) commander said in a text message it was a clash between the Scout Rangers and Abu Sayyaf bandits that took place around 9:30am in Barangay Cabangalan in Ungkaya Pukan town.

Macario said troops from the Army’s 4th Scout Ranger Battalion clashed with a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits led by a certain Commander Not, who has three standing warrants of arrest for murders.

The military official identified the fatality as Ahmad Saddick and the wounded as Nur Abdulla, who was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The troops recovered an M-16 Armalite rifle and cellular phones, he said.

But Basilan police director Senior Supt. Alex Linesis denied that the incident was an encounter with bandits.

Linesis said in a separate text message that the person identified by the military as Commander Not is actually Hot Haddalam, the village chief of Silangkum, Tipo-Tipo, while Abdulla is a policeman assigned in Lamitan City.

The police official said Haddalam and his driver rode on the same motorcycle toward Tipo-Tipo proper when the incident took place.

Ahmad and Abdullah, who were riding another motorcycle, were following them, he added.

Linesis said the group was allegedly fired upon by the Scout Rangers upon reaching Tipo-Tipo proper.

He said his mean were already investigating the incident.

A team of Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) was also sent to conduct forensic investigation on the Saddick’s body which was taken to the SOTF-B headquarters, Linesis said. (MindaNews)