An alleged “bomb expert” of the Islamic State-inspired Maute terror group was killed while a police officer was wounded in an operation at a village in General Santos City early Monday.
Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, Region 12 police director, identified the slain suspect as Najib Calimba Pundug alias Najib Hussein, who was reportedly a close associate of the new Maute leader, Owayda Benito Marohombsar, alias Abu Dar.
Morales said joint operatives led by personnel from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit and the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB)-12 stormed Pundug’s rented house at past 2 a.m. in Purok 3, Barangay Fatima. Elements from the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan, the city police and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies backed the raid.
As the operating team entered the house, Morales said the suspect opened fire at them, hitting Police Officer (PO) 3 Jerry Feo.
Morales said the other operatives immediately retaliated, fatally hitting the suspect, who was cornered inside the house.
“He tried to throw a grenade but it was fortunate that he was neutralized in time by the operating team,” he told reporters.
Recovered at the scene were a 9-mm Glock pistol, two grenades, cellular phones, several bomb-making materials and a black flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS.
PO3 Feo, who is a member of the RMFB-12, sustained four gunshot wounds but was already declared in stable condition before noon by attending doctors at the GenSan Medical Center.
Morales said the operation mainly targeted Pundug, who was reportedly involved in the five-month siege of Marawi City by the Maute terror group last year.
Pundug, who managed to escape and resettled in the city, was named in the martial law arrest order for murder, possession of explosives, kidnapping and illegal detention charges.
Prior to the operation, Morales said intelligence operatives monitored the presence of Pundug and eventually confirmed it in a series of surveillance operations.
“This is a product of intelligence coordination of various law enforcement agencies,” Morales said.
Senior Supt. Raul Supiter, city police director, said they also arrested five other relatives of the suspect for obstruction of justice and coddling a fugitive.
Supiter said the suspects, whose identities were withheld, are also undergoing investigation for possible involvement in Pundug’s activities.
Morales said the pursuit operations are ongoing against other alleged cohorts of Pundug, who are also reportedly linked to Abu Dar. PNA