A SUB-LEADER of a notorious kidnap-for-ransom group linked with the Abu Sayyaf was killed in a firefight with government troops early morning yesterday in Zamboanga City.
The Zamboanga City-based AFP Western Mindanao Command identified the slain suspect as Samad Awang, alias Ahmad Jamal, of the Abdussalam kidnap-for-ransom group which is behind numerous kidnap-for-ransom cases.
Awang reportedly opened fire at forces of the military’s Joint Task Force Zamboanga, PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group and other military and police units out to arrest him in Sitio Sahaya, Barangay Mampang in the city at around 12:30 a.m.
The troops retaliated, killing Awang. Recovered from Awang’s possession was a cal. 45 pistol.
“With their lives in danger, the apprehending team retaliated which resulted in the instantaneous death of Awang,” Wesmincom commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said.
Awang has standing arrest warrants for kidnapping, serious illegal detention and hostage-taking issued by a Zamboanga Sibugay judge, according to Col. John Divinagracia, the commander of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga.
Listed as No. 25 in the list of most wanted kidnappers by the Zamboanga Peninsula regional police, Awang was involved in the kidnapping of Italian missionary Fr. Giancarlo Bossi in 2007, businessman Joel Endino in 2011, and teacher Kathy Kasipong in 2013.
Bossi was kidnapped in Zamboanga del Sur and released by his captors 40 days later in Lanao del Sur after negotiations. Bossi died in Italy last September at the age of 62 after struggling with lung cancer for over a year.
The Abdussalam kidnap-for-ransom group was founded by former Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader Waning Abdussalam, who was killed in a military operation in Zamboana Sibugay in March 2016.
The group has been implicated in other kidnappings, including that of Italian priest Guiessepe Piarantoni in 2001 and Australian Warren Rodwell in Ipil in 2011. Piarantoni and Rodwell were later released.
Meanwhile, seven members of the terrorist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters were apprehended by government troops in Maguindanao on Tuesday afternoon.
Vinluan said the seven were intercepted by soldiers from the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Barugot in Barangay Mother Tuayan in Datu Hoffer town at around 12:15 p.m.
Vinluan said the seven introduced themselves as members of the 105th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces under the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that signed a peace accord with the government in 2014
“When our troops asked for any proof that they are legitimate members of the said group, subject personalities failed to show their identification which prompted the troops to apprehend them and confiscate their firearms and other war materials,” said Vinluan.
Seized from the suspects’ possession were two M1 Garand rifles, one M14 rifle, one M4, and other war materials.