ZAMBOANGA CITY: Security forces killed an Abu Sayyaf leader and one of his followers in clashes in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi on Thursday.
Officials said Ninok Sappari and Mahdi Abdurahman were slain when security forces swooped down on a beach resort they were staying in the village of Pahut before noon, triggering a gunbattle.
Abdurahman was killed on site while Sappari managed to escape but was tracked down by pursuing soldiers and police commandos in the nearby village of Nalil later in the night resulting in his death, according to Army Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).
“The operation was initially conducted at the Almari Beach Resort in Barangay Pahut, Bongao where the two are said to be staying while eyeing possible kidnap victims from the resort but were reported by a concerned civilian who noticed their suspicious movements,” she said.
Major General Carlito Galvez, Wesmincom chief, said the killing of Sappari was a big setback for the Abu Sayyaf.
“We will not stop until we get them all or until they decide to return to the folds of the law and surrender,” Galvez added.
Sappari was also tagged in the March 2012 kidnapping of Indian Viju Kolara Veetil and other Filipinos in Sulu province.