COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/27 November) — Eight members of an armed group believed to be inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria were killed in four-hour gun battle with the Philippine Marines, police and the Army in a law enforcement operation early morning Thursday.
Col. Emmanuel Salamat, commanding officer of 1st Marine Brigade said the clash lasted from 5:30-9:30 am, in Sitio Sinapingan, Barangay Butril in Palimbang town, Sultan Kudarat.
The troops went to the area to serve a warrant of arrest on one Mohammad Jaafar Sabiwang Maguid, an alleged leader of a lawless group but were met by gunshots instead.
Maguid, a.k.a. Kumander Tokboy and Abu Gaib, managed to escape as his members scampered in different directions. Eight of his followers were killed.
The troops recovered some firearms including a homemade Barrett sniper rifle, M-16 armalite, and a .45 pistol.
“Assorted documents with high intelligence value were also recovered in their camp,” said Salamat.
At the camp where a big tree covered the group’s hideout was a bamboo pole hoisting a black flag of the ISIS.
Unconfirmed reports said one of those killed based on intelligence information was Indonesian bomb maker Ibrahim Ali, a.k.a. Sucipto or Ustadz Abu Fatah.
Authorities were still trying to track down Kumander Tokboy. He is facing charges of extortion, arson, frustrated murder, cattle rustling and armed robbery.
The operation was coordinated through the Adhoc Joint-Action Group of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that seeks to interdict and isolate lawless elements that take refuge in or near MILF communities.
The Regional Security Battalion and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police-12 joined in the law enforcement operation. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)