3 drug suspects killed in Maguindanao clash

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 May)) — Three persons were killed in an encounter between government forces and around 15 suspected members of a drug syndicate in Pandag town in Maguindanao on Thursday morning, an Army official said in a phone interview.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, 33rd Infantry Battalion commander said his unit and Datu Paglas police conducted a joint law enforcement operation against the group led by a certain Commander Grasscutter which is allegedly engaged in illegal drug trade.

Cabunoc said the group fired at the government operatives forcing them to fire back.

Five high-powered firearms and a still unaccounted amount of illegal drugs and paraphernalia were recovered after the hour-long gun battle that started at around 5:30 a.m., he added.

He said three suspects were found dead after the encounter while Commander Grasscutter and the rest of his men escaped toward the Liguasan Marsh area where a pursuit operation was ongoing.

Col. Bismarck Soliva, commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade ordered all his battalions around Liguasan Marsh to to put up a blocking force.

“We deployed more reinforcements to block the withdrawal route of this lawless group,” he said. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)