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Nation

Kidnap gang leader killed in Basilan clash

- Ghio Ong, Helen Flores - The Philippine Star

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines  – The leader of a bandit group suspected to be behind the spate of kidnappings in Basilan was killed in an encounter in Sacol Island on Sunday, a police official said yesterday. 

Chief Superintendent Napoleon Estilles, regional police director, identified the alleged kidnap gang leader as Wahid Pingli, alias Guru.

Estilles said police forces launched an operation against the group of Pingli and his brother Ismael, alias Taggo, after they were monitored in Landang Gua, Sacol Island at around 12:15 p.m.

After a gunfight that lasted for 25 minutes, policemen recovered Pingli’s M-16 rifle, ammunitions and personal belongings.

Estilles said authorities offered a P280,000 reward for information that could lead to the arrest of Pingli. 

 He said the Pingli brothers were behind the kidnapping of American Gerfa Yeatts Luns-mann and her son Kevin Eric, 14, with their Filipino relative Romnick Jakaria on July 12, 2011 in Tigtabon Island near Sacol Island.

He said the Pingli group is also believed to be behind the kidnapping of three public school teachers in Sacol Island; businessmen Eliseo Hablo and Inocente Bautista, who were seized separately in 2009; and the three teachers from Naga town, Zamboanga Sibugay also in 2009. 

The police official said the group was also behind extortion and harassment activities in the Zamboanga peninsula.

AMERICAN GERFA YEATTS LUNS

CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT NAPOLEON ESTILLES

ELISEO HABLO AND INOCENTE BAUTISTA

ESTILLES

KEVIN ERIC

LANDANG GUA

PINGLI

ROMNICK JAKARIA

SACOL ISLAND

TIGTABON ISLAND

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