Soldiers kill bomb maker Usman

BOMB MAKER Basit Usman was killed when his group encountered fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front before noon Sunday in Guindolongan town in Maguindanao, an official said.

“Yes, Usman is dead, It’s confirmed,” said the high-ranking intelligence officer who asked not be named because he is not authorized to speak on the matter.

But Maguindanao Police Chief Nickson Muksan said Usman was killed by members of the MILF in Muti village in Guindulungan town.

The United States government had offered a $1- million bounty for Usman’s capture.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said the General Headquarters was still verifying the report on Usman’s death.

“We’re still getting verification and confirmation on the ground,” Kakilala said.

The intelligence officer said two comrades of Usman were also killed in the encounter that happened at 11:30 am in Mote village near Camp Afdal.

The MILF group that encountered Usman’s group reportedly was led by a Commander Marlboro under the 106th Base Command.

Usman and Amin Baco alias Jihad, a Malaysian terrorist, and four other “foreign-looking terrorists” were able to escape from a raid of their lair by the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police on Jan. 25, which resulted in the death of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan in Mamasapano town. Marwan then had a $5-million bounty for his capture from the US government.

The raid, however, also led to the killing of 44 SAF men when MILF fighters aided by fighters from its faction, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and private armed groups ambushed the withdrawing police commandos.

The 12-hour firefight walloped the 54th Special Action Company that had only one survivor because no reinforcements came to aid it. The MILF claimed 17 of their fighters were killed as well as three civilians.

Usman and his men escaped during the raid. There were even reports that he was “seriously wounded” and being carried on a stretcher by his men. They were initially taken and protected by the group of Mahammad Ali Tambako who was later captured along with five of his men by government forces.

The PNP’s Board of Inquiry, the Senate and Department of Justice concluded in their probes that the incident was a massacre because the majority of the wounded commandos were still alive when they were finished off by the rebels.

The commando’s mission also created animosity between the PNP officials involved in the botched “Oplan Exodus” and the military ground commanders because the commandos did not coordinate with them.

The sacked SAF director who implemented the Exodus, Police Director Getulio Napeñas, blamed Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, for not firing the requested artillery that could have minimized the commandos’ casualties.

President Benigno Aquino III was largely blamed for the debacle and for allowing suspended PNP chief Gen. Alan Purisima handle the mission instead of PNP Officer-in Charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.

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