Authorities placed this city and the neighboring areas under heightened alert following the killing early Thursday of a notorious leader of an armed group sympathetic with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in an operation in Kiamba town in Sarangani Province.
Sr. Supt. Leonardo Suan, Police Regional Office (PRO)-12's deputy regional director for operations, said they are currently monitoring the movements of the remaining members of the Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines Group, which had been tagged as behind a string of terror attacks in the area since 2008.
The group's founder and leader, Mohammad Jaafar Sabewang Maguid alias Tokboy, was killed in an encounter at past midnight at the Angel Beach Resort in Barangay Kitagas, Kiamba.
"We're closely monitoring if a new leader of the group will emerge," Suan said in a press conference at the PRO-12 headquarters in Barangay Tambler here.
Officials formally presented Maguid's three alleged cohorts, one of whom is a female, who were arrested during the operation.
The three were identified as Matahata Dialawe Arboleda, Ismael Sahak alias Mael, and Morhaban Veloso alias Bugoy.
Recovered from the suspects were two Bushmaster M-16 Armalite rifles, two hand grenades, 24 magazine bullets of M-16 Armalite, two bullet bandoliers and a brown envelope containing various documents of the group.
Sr. Supt. Joseph Semillano, Sarangani police director, said their intelligence operatives initially received an information on Wednesday night that Maguid was sighted at the Angel Beach Resort.
He said they immediately informed the other units about the report and embarked on an operation.
The operation involved elements from the PRO-12's Regional Public Safety Battalion and Regional Intelligence Unit, Sarangani Provincial Police Office, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Army's 27th Infantry Battlion.
"At 10 minutes after midnight, we were able to neutralize Tokboy," Semillano said.
The police official said Maguid's group arrived at the resort Wednesday night aboard a red Toyota Wigo sedan with temporary license plate 12190176 and rented a cottage.
During the operation, he said they were able to arrest the three suspects but Maguid attempted to draw an Armalite rifle and fled.
As the suspect was running towards a dark portion of the beach, Semillano said the operatives fired at him. Maguid sustained three gunshot wounds on his body.
Col. Tyne Banas, commanding officer of the Army's 1002nd Brigade, said the killing of Maguid is a major blow to his group.
He said it mainly reduced the capability of group, which has an estimated 10 to 15 members, as it lost Maguid's "network and connections."
"It's possible that the group will just disband," he said.
But Banas said their operations have been continuing against the remaining members of the Ansar Al-Khilafa, which he declared as a "mere ISIS sympathizer".
He said the group was not recognized by the ISIS.
Source: Philippines News Agency