Police Kill 5 Suspected IS-linked Militants in Southern Philippines

Jeoffrey Maitem
Cotabato, Philippines
Police Kill 5 Suspected IS-linked Militants in Southern Philippines This photo released by local police shows ammunition for a grenade launcher that was recovered during a raid on a suspected hideout of a pro-Islamic State militant in Polomolok, Philippines, Jan. 21, 2021.
Handout/Polomolok Police

Five suspected members of an Islamic State-linked Filipino militant group, including a senior lieutenant to its leader, were killed during separate raids by government security forces in the southern Philippines on Thursday, police said.

One of the Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP) suspects, identified as Kamarudin Sante, 43, was killed in a shootout with police as he resisted arrest during an early morning operation in Polomolok, a town in South Cotabato province, authorities said.

Sante (also known as Abu), was a senior lieutenant of Mohammad Jaafar Maguid (alias Commander Tokboy), the founder and leader of the pro-Islamic State AKP who was killed in 2017.

“We rushed him to the hospital but he was declared dead upon arrival due to multiple bullet wounds,” said Capt. Randy Apostol, the deputy chief of police in Polomolok. A handgun, illegal drugs and ammunition were recovered from the suspect, he said. 

Hours later, four members of a family allegedly working with AKP were killed in another operation in T’boli town – also in South Cotabato – the police said.

“The targets have arrest warrants for murder, frustrated murder, and direct assault charges,” said Maj. Irish Hezron Parangan, the local police chief. Parangan identified the other slain suspects as Saadin, Narjaid, Baharan, and Morn. Assorted weapons and ammunition were also recovered from them, authorities said. The state-run Philippine News Agency quoted Parangan as saying that a shootout ensued when the suspects fired at police officers and soldiers. 

Authorities had blamed AKP militants for an attack on the Mindanao Island that left two civilians dead in August 2008, as well for as a series of robberies and other crimes in the region.

He was arrested in July 2008, but escaped from jail in March 2010. In November 2015, Maguid managed to escape again as Philippine Marines raided an AKP camp in the south.

In 2017, he died in a shootout with police who were tracking him down. The AKP group pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) before Maguid’s death, but it did not send any fighters to take part in a bloody siege of the southern Philippine city of Marawi by pro-IS militants in 2017.

That attack was led by Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Hapilon, then the chief of the Philippine IS branch. Hundreds of fighters from the Middle East and Southeast Asia backed up the city’s takeover.

Hapilon was killed at the end of a five-month battle there with government forces. The siege marked the first time that IS-linked militants had taken over a city in Southeast Asia.

Richel V. Umel contributed to this report from Iligan City, Philippines.

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