GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Two alleged members of a local terrorist group, one of them reportedly acting as a finance officer, were killed in an encounter with government operatives in a remote village in Polomolok town, South Cotabato province on Tuesday afternoon.
Lt. Col. Alex Joe Orcajada, chief of Pomololok’s municipal police station, identified the slain suspects as brothers Jourhan and Mohaimeen Utap, who were listed as active members of the Tadoy sub-group of the Dawlah Islamiya-Socsargen Khatiba.
Orcajada said the clash erupted while a joint police and military team was serving three warrants of arrest against Jourhan in a house in Purok 4, Sitio Bio in Barangay Lapu at about 2:30 p.m.
The operating team was composed of elements of the Polomolok police station, 4th battalion of the Special Action Force, Regional Intelligence Division 12, South Cotabato Mobile Force Company, and the Army’s 5th Special Forces.
As the operatives were approaching the site, they were suddenly met by gunfire coming from the position of the suspects, he said.
“They (suspects) might have noticed the presence of our operatives and opened fire at them,” Orcajada said in an interview.
The team, which was divided into two groups, retaliated and engaged the suspects in a brief firefight, he said, adding that the latter was fatally wounded and declared dead upon arrival at the Polomolok municipal hospital.
Recovered from the two were a .45 caliber pistol and .38 caliber revolver with live ammunition, and three sachets of suspected shabu with an estimated street value of PHP6,000.
Orcajada said Jourhan is considered a notorious criminal and had been subjected to previous operations but eluded arrest.
He said Jourhan, who reportedly serves as finance officer for the terrorist group’s fugitive sub-leader Ali Boy Nilong, had standing arrest warrants for attempted murder and possession of illegal drugs and explosives.
Before the operation, Orcajada said, they received intelligence reports that the group has been planning to launch attacks against police and military personnel in the area.
“Rest assured that we are on top of the situation and continually monitoring the movements of the group to preempt their criminal and terrorist activities,” he said. (PNA)