MANILA — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang on Monday confirmed the death of Filipino terrorist and bomb-maker Basit Usman and five of his followers who were reported killed following a shootout with fellow brigands in Guindulungan town, Maguindanao before noon Sunday.
“I am confirming the death of Basit Usman, the terrorist-bomber who is responsible for the countless deaths of civilians in a series of bombings in Mindanao,” Catapang added.
Based on reports reaching AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Usman and five of his unidentified cohorts were killed in a shootout allegedly with fellow members of his group in Sitio Takeneken, Barangay Muti, Guindulungan, Maguindanao 10 a.m. Sunday.
“The encounter site is near the vicinity of Camp Afghan, a temporary relocation site for MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) members who voluntarily vacated their homes during the conduct of law enforcement operations against the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) in the last week of February 2015,” Catapang disclosed.
MILF members who are temporarily staying at the camp rushed to the scene and discovered the dead bodies along with the recoveries including an M-60 general purpose machine gun, one RPG and a 5.56mm Bushmaster rifle.
Sources in the ground believe that there was infighting among Usman’s followers fueled by the tussle for the huge monetary reward that was put on his head amounting to almost USD1 million.
“The AFP is validating the reports that Usman became distrustful of some of his own men after the series of encounters between the AFP and his group in the past two months,” Catapang said.
Photos of Usman’s dead body will be taken to show proof about his death, he added.
“The AFP and PNP (Philippine National Police) forces had been pursuing the small band of terrorists led by Basit Usman who continuously eluded the government troops for more than two months since the launching of the ‘all out law enforcement operations’ against the BIFF in Maguindanao,” he said.
On May 2-3, the government forces maintained its security patrols, sensing that Usman and his group were just nearby.
Usman’s group occasionally goes near to MILF communities in an effort to divert their pursuers.
“A final version of the military report will be released to the public once the After Operations Report related to this incident will be submitted by our line units,” according to Catapang.
“I want to convey my warm congratulations to the MILF and the government forces (both the AFP and PNP) who worked together in neutralizing this notorious terrorist,” he added.
Catapang also said that it is very important to note that aside from helping the government in neutralizing Usman, the MILF provided valuable information that led to the arrest of prominent BIFF leaders such as Mohammad Ali Tambako and Esmael Pagao.
“Through the MILF’s cooperation and support, we have also succeeded in uprooting the bomb factories and terrorist hideouts near their communities,” he said.
I’mThe recent accomplishment shows the MILF’s sincerity in supporting the peace process by actively helping the government in flushing out the terrorists from their former safe havens.
It can be recalled that the MILF relocated from their communities inside “SPMS Box” since the last week of February 2015 in order to give way to the joint law enforcement operations of the AFP/PNP against the BIFF and Usman’s group.