MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ameril Umra Kato, founder of the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), died early Tuesday, April 14, sources from the police, military and a local official said.
Reports reaching military intelligence said that Kato died around 2 am Tuesday due to “cardiac arrest.” The intelligence report added: “His cadaver now lies in Barangay Kateman, Guindulungan, Maguindanao.”
A veteran police intelligence official earlier told Rappler the same information about Kato’s death.
The same was confirmed by MindaNews, citing information from Dati Saudi Mayor Samsoddin “Pink” Dimaukom.
BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama said they were able to confirm Tuesday afternoon after speaking to Kato’s daughter. “Nakausap na po namin ang anak niya at sinabi niya nga na patay na ang papa niya at nailibing na kanina. Hindi lang namin masasabi kung saan.” (We just can’t disclose where he was buried.)
Kato suffered a stroke in 2012. A year later, the BIFF announced it has a new military commander, Sheik Mohidin Animbang.
The BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over serious disagreements on the MILF’s peace talks with the Aquino administration, among other reasons.
Some of its men were involved in the January 25 Mamasapano clash that killed 44 elite cops, 5 civilians and 18 Moro rebels. The bloodbath triggered a massive military offensive against the BIFF, which is suspected of coddling terrorists. – with reports from Karlos Manlupig/Rappler.com