A mid-level Abu Sayyaf militant commander suspected of taking part in past kidnappings of Europeans was killed during a raid by government forces in the southern Philippines, the military said Tuesday.
Arod Wahing died in a shootout after pulling out a pistol as troops moved in to arrest him during the dawn raid a day earlier on Basilan Island, officials said.
“Security forces swooped down on the hideout of Wahing at dawn yesterday,” said Brig. Gen. Fernando Reyeg, commander of the 104th Brigade and Joint Task Force Basilan.
Two other suspected Abu Sayyaf militants, identified as Nasser Jumadil and Jerry Ahang, were taken into custody, Reyeg said.
Reyeg said Wahing was a sub-leader under the command of senior Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron, who is based in the southern Sulu Islands. Nothing has been heard of from Sahiron in years. He was part of an Abu Sayyaf unit that masterminded the mass abductions of foreign hostages in the Philippines years ago, officials said.
According to an incident report by the military, Wahing was involved in the kidnapping of a German couple, Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen, who were abducted from their yacht sailing off Palawan on April 2014. They were freed eight months later after an alleged payment of ransom.
Wahing was also believed to be involved in the abduction of Dutch national Ewold Horn and Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra in 2012, officials said. Vinciguerra escaped after two years in captivity, but Horn was killed by his captors during a rescue attempt this past May.
Wahing was among the Southeast Asian country’s 113 “most wanted” militants, according to the military. A standing warrant for his arrest for murder had been issued by a court in Jolo, the capital of Sulu province, reports said. Troops were armed with the warrant when they carried out the raid on Monday, according to the Manila Bulletin.