MANILA— Combined forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have killed a leader of the Abu Sayyaf’s “Lucky 9 Group” along with another bandit during a series of joint military and police operations in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi on Thursday.
Western Mindanao Command (WMC) spokesperson Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay identified the slain bandits as “Lucky 9 Group” leader Ninok Sappari and his follower, Mahdi Abdurahman.
Initial reports indicated the two were looking for possible kidnapping targets at the Almari Beach Resort in Barangay Pahut, Tawi-Tawi when spotted by concerned citizens who then reported their presence to authorities.
In the first operation, which was conducted 12:15 p.m in Barangay Pahut, government forces shot and killed Abdurahman while Sappari managed to escape only to be neutralized 9:30 p.m. in the resulting pursuit operations in nearby Barangay Nalil.
Seized from Saparri, who was wanted for 32 counts of murder, was a hand grenade.
“All available forces are being deployed to pursue and neutralize the Abu Sayyaf Group. These recent operations have caused setbacks, casualties and losses on the terrorist group,” WMC head Major General Carlito G. Galvez Jr., Commander, Western Mindanao Command said.
“We will not stop until we get them all or until they decide to return to the folds of the law and surrender,” he added.
The “Lucky 9 Group of Sulu is being hunted by authorities for perpetrating the assassinations of military personnel. The group was also engaged lately on kidnapping of locals in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.