CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 14 April) – The Philippine Army on Sunday confirmed the death of Obwaydah Marohombsar alias Abu Dar, the Maute Group’s “last remaining leader,” following the release of DNA test results that one of four terrorists killed on March 14 in Tubaran, Lanao del Sur, was, indeed, Abu Dar.
Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., chief of the Army 103rd Infantry Brigade said the US forces and the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO), which conducted separate DNA tests on a body found near the encounter site, confirmed beyond doubt that it was Abu Dar.
He said the tissues were compared to samples taken from two of Abu Dar’s children who voluntarily gave tissue samples upon intercession of an uncle.
“Both of the tests conducted by the US forces and PNP SOCO confirmed it was Abu Dar,” Brawner said.
Abu Dar and three other militants were killed along with four soldiers in an encounter in Tubaran town, Lanao del Sur on March 14.
Army soldiers backed by US drones that downlinked vital information, fought the militants for days in the jungle near Tubaran town.
Brawner said at first they did not recognize it was Abu Dar because its face was burned beyond recognition.
He said they were suspicious, however, because the body bore telltale scars and moles of Abu Dar’s right hand and body.
The military used an enlarged picture of Abu Dar to compare it with the remains.
Brawner said the body was already two to three days old when found. They immediately asked the PNP and US forces to conduct DNA tests.
He said while the PNP SOCO took tissues of the body in the encounter site, the US forensic team conducted theirs in Camp Ranao, headquarters of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, where the body was brought.
“Abu Dar’s surviving men tried to hide his death but DNA tests have proven it was he who died that day,” Brawner said.
The military had tagged Abu Dar responsible for the 2013 bombing in Limketkai Rosario arcade that left at least ten persons dead and 46 others injured
He was also among the Maute leaders recorded in a video planning the attack of Marawi on May 23, 2017.
Abu Dar, an Aleem or preacher, was supposed to be named “acting Emir of the Islamic State in the Philippines” following the death of Isnilon Hapilon during the Marawi siege but the leadership went to Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, an Abu Sayyaf leader is Sulu.
“We thank our US counterparts and the citizens of Lanao del Sur for helping us neutralize the last remaining leader of the Maute-ISIS Group in the persons of Abu Dar. We will not rest until we neutralize all the other remnants of this terrorist group,” Brawner said.
With the death of Abu Dar, a little known Maute leader, Zacharia, is expected to take his place as leader but according to Brawner, “Zacharia is not a preacher like Abu Dar. He does not have the same clout.”
He said a P6-million bounty for the capture or death of Abu Dar would be given to the civilian informant who gave the soldiers the whereabouts of the militants. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)