A suspected member of a terrorist group allied with the Abu Sayyaf Group who reportedly had links with slain Boholano ASG member Joselito Melloria was killed in a police operation in Kiamba town in Sarangani province.
Sr. Insp. Ruben Lambago, deputy chief of the Kiamba municipal police station, said that suspect Jukarno Espadilla was gunned down Wednesday by joint operatives after resisting arrest during a raid at his home in Barangay Badtasan, Kiamba.
He said the operation was joined by elements from Sarangani police’s drug enforcement unit, Provincial Intelligence Branch, Regional Public Safety Battalion and the Kiamba municipal police station.
Armed with a search warrant, he said the raiding team swooped down on the suspect’s house and another target, Basir Saha, at around 3:30 a.m.
After the warrant was served, the police official said Espadilla run inside his house, took a grenade and attempted to hurl it towards the operatives.
Lambago said the team was forced to shoot the suspect in the process while Saha managed to escape.
Authorities in a report of the Manila Times said that operatives found in Espadilla’s possession his cellphone which contained text messages to a certain Ali who is believed to be an ASG member killed in Bohol last month.
Melloria, alias “Ali,” was killed by government troops in Clarin town on April 22.
The militant was being hunted down after he and a band of around 10 ASG men were first sighted in Inabanga 12 days prior to his death.
Also recovered from Espadilla’s house were suspected bomb-making materials, a fragmentation grenade and several sachets of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.
The operatives also seized a motorcycle that was supposedly used by slain terror group leader Mohammad Jaafar Sabewang Maguid alias Tokboy.
Maguid, the founder and leader of the Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP), was killed in an encounter at past midnight on Jan. 5 at Angel Beach Resort in Barangay Kitagas, Kiamba. (PNA with reports from Rey Tutas)