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44 SAF massacre suspect nabbed in Cotabato hospital

SECURITY troops on Wednesday afternoon captured one of the main suspects in the massacre of 44 commandos of the elite Philippine National Police Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015 while he was seeking treatment in a Cotabato City hospital, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Police Regional Office director, Brigadier General Marni C. Marcos Jr. announced yesterday.

Marcos said that Abu Halil alias ‘Abuhalil Dumamba Sabpa,’ one of those ordered arrested by the Cotabato City Regional Trial Court Branch 15 for direct assault with 44 counts of murder was tracked down inside the Cotabato City Regional Medical Center around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday following a tip from an informant.

The official said they received an information that one ‘Abuhalil Dumamba Sabpa’ who is having a medical treatment at the CRMC was the same Abu Halil included in the warrant of arrest issued in connection with the killing of the Gallant 44 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.

Acting on the tip, members of the Maguindanao Police Provincial Office, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the Cotabato City Police Office, Task Force Kutawato and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division rushed to the hospital to arrest the most wanted man who also goes by the name ‘Commander Haraemen.’

Marcos said that the accused has been positively identified as the battalion commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s 105th Base Command who was directly involved in the attack on the SAF troopers.

“We have reports that he and his men were the first to be encountered by the SAF 44 during the Mamasapano incident,” said the official who has vowed to account for more suspects in the carnage.

The SAF 44 were among the commandos who were sent on a mission to neutralized Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias ‘Marwan’ when they were assaulted by hundreds of gunmen while they were retreating after killing Marwan.

Then President Benigno Aquino III came under fire for allegedly ordering Armed Forces troops in the area to ‘stand down’ while the SAF commandos were being attacked by hundreds of enemies in order to preserve ongoing peace talks between the government and the MILF then.