A suspected leader of an Islamic State-inspired local terror group, tagged as among the suspects in the September 16 bomb attack here, was killed in an encounter with joint operatives on Monday in the outskirts of Maasim town, Sarangani Province.
Chief Supt. Eliseo Tam Rasco, regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12, identified the slain suspect as Basser Sahak, the alleged head of the special operations group of the Sarangani-based Ansar Al-Khilafa Philippines (AKP).
Rasco said Sahak was killed during a law enforcement operation around 5:45 a.m. at a portion of Sitio Lebe, Barangay Daliao in Maasim.
The police official said elements from the Sarangani police’s Provincial Mobile Force Company, Provincial Intelligence Branch-Tracker Team, and the Maasim launch the operation after monitoring the presence of the suspect in the area.
They were backed by personnel from the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, he said.
As the operating team was approaching the area, he said the suspect and his father Kupang opened fire at the authorities.
Rasco said a firefight ensued that led to the killing of Basser but Kupang, who was tagged as an AKP member, managed to escape.
Recovered at the scene was Basser’s body, an M16 Armalite rifle, an ammunition bandolier with loaded magazines, a backpack, cellphone, several improvised explosives and components, he said.
Rasco said Basser was among the 19 alleged members of the AKP charged with multiple frustrated murder over the bomb blast in front of a lying-in clinic in Makar junction, Barangay Apopong here that left eight people wounded.
Citing intelligence reports, he said the slain suspect held “a key position and plays a vital role” in the AKP’s operations. As the supposed leader of its special operations group, he said Basser handled the liquidation operations and the AKP’s “money-making” activities.
“He managed AKP’s finances and was in charge of the procurement of firearms and ammunition,” he said.
Rasco said the suspect had direct contact with Sulu-based groups allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.
Basser was reportedly monitored to have established direct communication with terror leader Abu Toraife of the Dawlah Islamiya group operating in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, he said.
“He also had direct contact with a group based in the Middle East that provides financial support to AKP,” he said. (PNA/Allen Estabillo)