ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/18 June) – A suspected leader of a kidnap-for-ransom group who was implicated in several kidnappings including that of two Americans, was killed yesterday in a joint police- military “small unit operation” in Sacol Island, east of this city, a police official announced Monday.
Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) director Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles identified the slain suspect as Wahid Pingli, who carried a P200,000 reward for his arrest.
Estilles added that Pingli is the third of the 10 most wanted persons in the region.
He said Pingli was involved in the kidnappings of three public school teachers in Zamboanga City on January 23, 2009; a Zamboanga City businessman on January 8, 2009; three public school teachers from Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay on March 13, 2009; and, two American nationals and a Filipino relative on July 19, 2011 in Tigtabon Island, Zamboanga City.
The police official said Pingli was killed in a 15-minute clash that erupted 12:15 p.m. Sunday in Sitio Tambak, Barangay Landang Laum, Sacol Island, 33 kilometers east of this city.
Aside from Landang Laum, Sacol Island comprises the barangays of Busay, Pasilmanta and Landang Gua.
Estilles said the 15-minute firefight ensued when Pingli and two of his men opened fire on the operatives who went to Sacol Island to serve a warrant of arrest against the suspected kidnapper.
Pingli was killed on the spot while his two followers managed to escape, he said.
The slain suspect is facing criminal charges for kidnapping with serious illegal detention before a local court, he added.
Aside from kidnappings, the group of Pingli is also involved in the trade of prohibited drugs, extortion and harassments, Estilles said.
Meanwhile, Malacanang announced today that a Jordanian journalist and two Filipino crew members who were reported missing in Sulu are in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group.
Baker Atyani, 43, Al Arabiya News Channel bureau chief for Southeast Asia, Rolando Letrero, 22, an audioman, and photographer Ramelito Vela, 39, were missing since June 12.
They arrived in Jolo, the capital of Sulu, last Monday purposely to do a documentary about Mindanao and had checked in at the Sulu State College Hostel, according to Sulu police director Senior Supt. Antonio Freyra.
Malacanang said they have received information that the kidnappers are demanding a P50-million ransom.
The Palace said the government is standing by its no-ransom policy. (MindaNews)