2 terrorists killed in Sarangani

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KIDAPAWAN CITY: Two members of the Ansarul Khilafah in the Philippines (AKP), supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) caliphate were killed after an elite police team stormed the group’s hideout on Thursday in a remote village in Maasim town in Sarangani Province.

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Supt. Romeo Galgo, spokesman for the Central Mindanao police, said that the operation was carried out jointly by the PNP Regional Special Investigation and Detection Team, Special Action Force, Region 12’s Regional Public Safety Battalion and the Sarangani Police Provincial Police Office.

The police team clashed with the AKP resulting in the death of two unidentified members and the escape of their leader, Muhammad Jaafar Maguid alias ‘Tokboy,’ the main target of the raid.

“The troops successfully overran and contained the stronghold after the firefight,” Galgo said. Maguid was able to escape, while no one was hurt on the government side.

Recovered from the scene were a .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifle, two Carbine rifles with loaded magazines, two rounds of rocket-propelled grenades, three 60 mm mortar rounds, bomb-making materials and a black flag with the ISIS symbol.

Maguid is among the high-profile local jihadists linked to the Southeast Asian terror network Jema’ah Islamiyah (JI). He is blamed for various heinous offences, mostly atrocities in Sarangani.

In November 26, 2015, elements of the Philippine Marines also tried to arrest Maguid in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat province, which resulted in the killing of eight jihadists including a foreign national identified as Ibrahim Ali alias ‘Abdul Fattah,’ an alleged senior member of Mujahideen Indonesia Timur.

Jundul Khilafah (JK) or soldiers of the caliphate in the country corroborated the Thursday clash, saying that the two casualties were “shahid [martyr],” the group announced in its news online bulletin.

The JK is composed of local jihadist groups that had pledge allegiance to ISIS including the AKP, the Abu Sayyaf Group or ASG’s factions Harakatul Islamiyah in Basilan and Jundul Tawheed in Sulu, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao, Rajah Solaiman Movement in Luzon and Dawlah Islamiyah in Lanao, previously known as the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement.

The AKP was formed in Sarangani after the fall of other JI members and notorious bombers Abdul Basit Usman and Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan last year in the province of Maguindanao and the arrest of Mohammad Ali Tambako in General Santos City.

The ISIS recently recognized the JK militants but the government has downplayed the existence of the group.

Police also reported that an improvised explosive device went off in General Santos City Friday, but said there were no casualties in the blast.

The explosion occurred at a plaza and destroyed at least three motorcycles parked there. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the blast which police are now investigating.

WITH ANTHONY VARGAS AND AL JACINTO

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