A GUNFIGHT broke out between Philippine National Police (PNP) operatives and a group of heavily-armed Abu Sayyaf bandits in Lamitan City, Basilan on Thursday leaving four of the gunmen dead, PNP chief General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said.
The top cop said a 5th suspect identified as Dawam Morales was also arrested during the gunbattle which erupted while members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) were about to serve a warrant of arrest for murder, kidnapping-for-ransom and car theft issued against the suspects by a local court.
Eleazar said a team from the 84th Special Action Company of the SAF Rapid Deployment Battalion, 53rd and 54th Special Action Battalion, Basilan Police Provincial Office, Lamitan City Police Station and the PNP Drug Enforcement Group were involved in the operation in Bgy. Balobo
Citing a report from PNP-SAF director Major Gen. Felipe R. Natividad, the PNP chief said the policemen were about to serve the warrants of arrest issued against the suspects identified as Baradi Ganie, Remie Ganie, Dawam Morales and Mando Morales when the suspects opened fire at them.
The lawmen retaliated killing Baradi, Remie Ganie, Mando Morales and one Jack Akalum before they were able to arrest the other Morales. The five were identified as members of the ISIS-inspired Abu Sayyaf led by one Radmizl Jannatul.
Recovered from the possession of the slain suspects were one KG9 machine pistol, one caliber .45 semi-automatic pistol, one 12-gauge shotgun, one cal. .30 Carbine rifle and assorted live and spent ammunition.
Eleazar lauded all police units involved in the operation but reminded them to remain on alert for possible retaliatory attacks by the local terror group.
“Posibleng gumanti ang mga kasamahang Abu Sayyaf nitong mga napatay sa operasyon at iyong isang nahuli. I am directing all concerned police offices and units to be on alert against possible attacks,” he said.
“Makakaasa ang publiko na handa kaming magbigay proteksyon sakaling magsagawa ng pag-atake ang bandidong grupo,” he added.