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2 Basilan jail escapes killed in encounter

TWO escapees from provincial jail were killed in an encounter with government forces on Sunday in Isabela City, Basilan.

This was confirmed yesterday by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr.

Vinluan identified the suspects as Nurhassan Lahaman, a former member of a local terrorist group who was jailed for a case of murder; and Battuh Kusain Murag, who was supposedly involved in the Lamitan City blast in July 2018.

Vinluan said troops from the 4th Special Forces Battalion were conducting a pursuit operation in Bgy. Cabunbata to apprehend those who escaped from jail last October 13 when the two fugitives started the gunbattle, prompting soldiers to retaliate.

The fugitives sustained gunshot wounds, which resulted in their deaths. The firefight lasted for five minutes, the military said.

Vinluan said no casualty was reported from the government side.

Authorities were able to seize an M653 rifle with a short magazine and 17 ammunition and a caliber .45 pistol with a magazine and seven ammunition in the area.

Vinluan said the military continues the hot pursuit operation for the remaining escapees. One escapee, named as Mahad Hassan, was arrested last October 14 in Barangay Calvario.

We cannot deny the fact that they are familiar of the terrain, but we are maximizing our efforts to expedite the arrest of the remaining fugitives the soonest possible,” Vinluan said.