• Notorious bandit leader, cop slain in southern Philippines

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: A notorious bandit leader and a police commando were killed in a firefight early Wednesday in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte, officials said.

    They added that police forces swooped down on the hideout of Omar Arassi in Salvacion village in Labason town and engaged his group in a clash that killed him and one of his followers, as well as PO2 Alejandro Gafungle, a member of the Special Action Force.

    Another bandit, Elmer Mucadam, was captured by the police and is currently being interrogated. Police were trying to arrest Arassi when he and his followers clashed with the raiders. The fighting lasted over 30 minutes.

    Police also recovered assorted weapons and munitions from Arassi’s hideout. Arassi, alias Commander “Sapii,” was one of the most wanted criminals in western Mindanao and facing a string of murder cases and banditry in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

    Last year, police raided another hideout of Arassi in Labason town and killed one of his men and arrested another follower. In 2013, Arassi’s group attacked the villages of Lawigan and Balas – all in Labason – and shot at least three people. AL JACINTO

    AJ/BF

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