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Fugitive terrorist Usman killed by MILF

Usman

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines  – Fugitive terrorist bomber Abdul Basit Usman was killed yesterday in an encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Maguindanao, according to reports.

Mayor Antao Midtimbang of Guindulungan town confirmed Usman’s death yesterday.

An MILF band under a Commander Marlboro killed Usman at 11:30 a.m. at the adjoining towns of Guindulungan and Datu Saudi, said senior officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), quoting elected officials in the second district of Maguindanao.

Marlboro’s men carried Usman’s body to the MILF’s Camp Afgan in Barangay Muti in Guindulungan for documentation, said an ARMM official born and raised in the same barangay where Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) founder Imam Ameril Umbra Kato grew up.

“Most likely,” said MILF chief negotiator  Mohagher Iqbal, when The STAR asked him to confirm the reported death of Usman.

“Not yet fully confirmed,” Iqbal said at 1:30 p.m. yesterday when asked to give details.

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Iqbal could be keeping information due to restrained communication protocol governing dissemination of accomplishments in bilateral law enforcement activities in areas covered by the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities, according to sources from the joint government-MILF ceasefire committee.

“That’s understandable,” said a local official, who belongs to a big Moro noble clan in Guindulungan.

Barangay leaders have relayed to him that the MILF killed Usman, the official added.

In a text message, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. said they are still validating the reported death of Usman.

“We will make an announcement in due time,” he said.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said they are verifying information that two followers of Usman were also killed in the shootout with the MILF.

Spokesman Chief Supt. Bartolome Tobias said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is verifying reports that Usman has been killed.

However, other reports said Usman was wounded in an encounter with Marines.

Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said government troops are scouring the Lanao provinces for the whereabouts of Usman.

Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, Westmincom spokesperson, said the military has been hunting down Usman since he fled the Mamasapano operation that killed Malaysian bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, last Jan. 25. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Roel Pareño, Alexis Romero

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