Gunmen burn Marwan's house
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - February 25, 2015 - 10:54am

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – Unidentified gunmen set on fire Tuesday night the house of slain Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao.

The arson attack was perpetrated just hours after members of the government’s Board of Inquiry (BOI) toured Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano to inspect the scenes of the deadly January 25 encounter between policemen and Moro rebels.

Inspector Reggie Abellara, chief of the Mamasapano municipal police confirmed Wednesday morning that Marwan’s house was burned by men brandishing assault rifles and shoulder-fire grenade launchers.

“We have confirmed that from barangay folks and community leaders,” Abellera said.

Villagers had told Army officials in Mamasapano that the arsonists used dried coconut palms and kerosene in setting Marwan’s house on fire.

"We can only confirm the incident. We can't issue any statement about it because that is a 'police matter' and police investigators are the one who would determine the identities of the arsonists," said an Army officer, who asked not to be identified.

Marwan was killed inside his house, made only of indigenous materials, in a dawn raid on January 25 by operatives of the police’s elite Special Action Force (SAF).

Abellera said they are still trying to establish the identities of the arsonists.

The scenes of the January 25 SAF-rebel encounters in Barangays Inog-og, Pidsandawan and Tukanalipao are common strongholds of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The outlawed BIFF is not covered by the government-MILF July 2007 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.

The SAF commandos were maneuvering their way out of Barangay Inog-og after having killed Marwan there when they were attacked by MILF guerillas and BIFF gunmen, precipitating firefights that lasted for 10 hours.

The skirmishes, which left 44 SAF members, 18 MILF guerillas and five civilians dead, waned only after the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) intervened.

The IMT, comprised of soldiers from Malaysia, Brunei, Libya and Indonesia, and conflict resolution experts from Japan, Norway and the European Union, has been helping oversee the government-MILF ceasefire accord since 2003.

Abellera said community elders and traditional leaders in Mamasapano are now helping them investigate on the burning of Marwan’s house, located less than a hundred meters away from the shanty of his ethnic Maguindanaon accomplice, Abdul Basit Usman.

Usman had undergone training in handling of explosives and fabrication of improvised bombs in Peshawar, Pakistan and in Kandahar, Afganistan during the early 1990s.

Usman, who was wounded in the January 25 dawn raid at Barangay Inog-og, escaped bringing with him his firearms and materials for home-made bombs.

ABDUL BASIT USMAN ABELLERA BARANGAY INOG BARANGAY TUKANALIPAO BARANGAYS INOG BOARD OF INQUIRY GENERAL CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES INSPECTOR REGGIE ABELLARA MAMASAPANO MARWAN
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