MILF leader arrested in Cotabato City over Mamasapano clash
In this file photo from February 2015, Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales and ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman offer a prayer for peace along a river in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
John Unson, file
MILF leader arrested in Cotabato City over Mamasapano clash
John Unson (Philstar.com) - February 27, 2020 - 12:31pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The police on Wednesday arrested a Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander wanted over the 2015 Mamasapano clash, where at least 64 people died.

Personnel of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao served Abuhalil Sabpa the warrant for his arrest in one of the wards of the Cotabato Regional Medical Center, where he has been confined.

Sabpa, a senior member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and his followers were tagged in the January 25, 2015 attack on a police Special Action Force unit in Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano that resulted in the deaths of 44 SAF personnel.

The clash happened in the aftermath of a SAF operation, which a police board of inquiry found suffered from poor coordination and poor planning, left 44 SAF troopers, at least 15 MILF guerrillas and five villagers dead.

The warrant for the arrest of Sabpa was issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya of the Regional Trial Court Branch 15 in Cotabato City.

He was arrested after the police reportedly learned of his confinement in a hospital in Cotabato City from tipsters.

The 44 police commandoeswere retreating from Pidsandawan area in Mamasapano after killing there in a brief gunfight Malaysian terrorist Zulkfili bin Hir, alias Marwan, when MILF guerrillas and gunmen belonging to the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters attacked them from different directions, sparking a 10-hour encounter.

The MILF had said the bloody clash could have been avoided if the SAF operation was coordinated properly with its commanders on the ground based on security agreements binding the group and the government to cooperate in addressing security issues in conflict flashpoint areas.

MAMASAPANO CLASH MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT SAF 44
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