ZAMBOANGA CITY: Authorities on Tuesday captured a suspected rebel and one of the most wanted criminals in western Mindanao in a raid in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province, officials said.
Insp. Ariel Huesca, a regional police spokesman said that, Talib Asaali was arrested in his hideout in the village of Dalama shortly before 4:30 a.m.
He said that Asaali is facing various criminal charges from theft to multiple murders. He said policemen, backed by soldiers, recovered from Asaali’s hideout an automatic rifle, a pistol and munitions.
“The arrested person is included in the top 16 of the most wanted person in the regional level and is and now under the custody of Zamboanga Sibugay Provincial Police Office,” Huesca said.
Police and military did not give additional details about Asaali, but the man is a follower of a senior Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Wanning Abdusalam, who was implicated in the kidnapping of Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell in Zamboanga Sibu-gay’s Ipil town in December 2011; and foreign missionaries in Mindanao.
Security forces had previously tried, but failed to arrest Asaali in Payao town in October 2011, but MILF rebels clashed with the raiders. The MILF then accused police and military authorities of attacking its camp in Payao’s Labatan village.
There was no immediate statement from the MILF on the arrest of Asaali, but the rebel group had in the past denied any links to kidnapping activities in Mindanao.
The MILF is currently negotiating peace with Manila.