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The Philippine military believes that Abu Sayyaf subleader Furuji Indama is dead, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr said on Friday, October 30.
“Based on the reports from the intel community, info from his relatives, he was fatally wounded during the encounter in Alicia and eventually died later,” Vinluan told reporters in a text message.
“May efforts din kami (We have ongoing efforts) to locate where he was buried,” Vinluan added.
In September, the military reported that at least 5 members of the Abu Sayyaf under Indama were killed during a clash with members of the 44th Infantry Batallion in Alicia town, Zamboanga Sibugay. The statement did not mention that Indama was hurt or among those killed at the time.
But the Westmincom press statement on Friday said that Indama was among those “killed during the encounter with the troops of 44IB last September 2020.”
The Friday statement was about Abu Sayyaf member “Botak” who was killed in Basilan during an encounter with soldiers the day before. Westmincom described him as a known follower of Indama.
Indama is blamed for the suicide bombing that killed 11 people in Lamitan City, Basilan, on July 31, 2018.
Indama is also wanted for the 2001 abduction of 21 local and foreign tourists in the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan. The victims included US missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham, and businessman Reghis Romero.
Indama’s remains have to be located and subjected to the necessary confirmation process before the terrorist could be officially declared as dead.
In February 2012, the military announced that Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan was among the terrorists killed in an airstrike in Sulu, even though it had yet to recover his corpse. In 2014, it admitted that it was possible that he was still alive. Marwan was finally confirmed dead in April 2015, months after the controversial operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that targetted him. – With reports from Rambo Talabong/Rappler.com