A suspected member of an armed gang that kidnapped an Italian priest a dozen years ago was killed during a raid in the southern Philippines earlier this week, police said Thursday.
Masdal Jakaria, who allegedly belonged to the Muloc and Waning Abdusalam Group, died during a pre-dawn raid mounted by authorities at his hideout in a coastal village here on Wednesday, regional police director Brig. Gen. Froilan Quidilla said.
“The subject person is a member of the Muloc and Waning Abdusalam Group, which is also identified in the illegal drugs operation and involved in the kidnapping activities in Zamboanga Sibugay and nearby provinces,” Quidilla said.
Joint police and military forces, backed by intelligence units, raided Jakaria’s safe house in Mampang, a village east of Zamboanga city. But the raiding team encountered violent resistance and the suspect was fatally wounded during an exchange of gunfire, Quidilla said.
Officers recovered bomb-making materials from Jakaria’s house, including blasting caps, detonating cords and electrical wire. A pistol, several shells and an automatic rifle were also seized during the raid.
The group to which Jakaria belonged was responsible for kidnapping Giancarlo Bossi, an Italian priest, on June 10, 2007, as the clergyman was traveling to preside over a Mass celebration in the Zamboanga town of Payao.
The priest was held for 40 days but allegedly freed after a ransom was paid. The government as well as the police denied that money had changed hands for his release on July 19, 2007.
In the course of government efforts to recover the priest, a group of Marines were killed on Basilan island, leaving 14 of them dead.
They had strayed into a jungle camp of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, unleashing a fierce fire fight. While the Abu Sayyaf was not known to have taken part in the priest’s abduction, it was well known that some of its members also moonlighted for other armed groups in the Philippine south.
In September 2012, Giancarlo Bossi died of lung cancer at age 62 in Milan, according to the Philippine News Agency.