Police, military launch massive manhunt for 2 Maguindanao gang members
COTABATO CITY—Police and military in Maguindanao province have launched a manhunt for two gang members involved in various crimes, including the killing of government security forces.
Brig. Gen. Samuel Rodriguez, police chief of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), said tracker teams had been deployed to hunt Hajer Mama and Jaon Guiabel, followers of former Limbo village chair Pendatun Talusan.
Rodriquez said Mama and Guiabel were involved in a clash with government troopers but slipped out of the gang’s hideout and fled as reinforcements from the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) arrived.
Talusan and 11 of his followers were killed on Saturday (Jan. 23) in a gun battle with policemen and soldiers who were out to arrest six gang members for murder, frustrated murder, robbery, homicide and illegal possession of firearms.
The law enforcers were also carrying a search warrant.
A police sergeant was killed, four officers and three civilians were wounded in the five-hour clash.
Several firearms and ammunition were seized from the gang members.
Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told reporters that Army intelligence units were tasked with helping police hunt down Mama and Guiabel.
According to police, Talusan’s group has killed more than a dozen security forces for their firearms in the last two years.
Maj. Esmael Madin, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Maguindanao, told the Inquirer that Talusan’s group sells the service firearms of soldiers and policemen whom the gang killed.
Talusan was also working for the terror network Islamic State through Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, protecting the late founder of BIFF, Ameril Umra Kato, who had been subject of manhunt operations for a series of attacks on government forces and installations, according to Madin.
Madin added that Talusan also ran an extortion ring that preyed on local businesses and some government agencies like the Land Transportation Office in Sultan Kudarat town that allegedly gives him P1,500 in cash every week.
Madin said Talusan was also involved in drugs.
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