MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Mission accomplished.
Most wanted Filipino bombmaker Abdul Basit Usman and several members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in a firefight Sunday noon, May 3, in the village of Mote in Guindulungan town of Maguindanao.
Malacañang confirmed the news Sunday night, saying it is awaiting the submission of the military's "after-operations report" on the incident.
"According to AFP field operatives, terror suspect Basit Usman was killed in a firefight in Guindulungan, Maguindanao at around noon [Sunday]," said Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
Earlier Sunday, police and military situation reports obtained by Rappler stated that a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commander identified as "Barok" of the 118th Base Command shot Usman dead at 11:50 am on Sunday.
Usman was killed in the same area where Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) founder Ameril Umbra Kato sought refuge until he died of a heart attack last month. The BIFF is opposed to the peace talks between the government and the MILF. It is a breakaway group of the MILF, the largest Muslim rebel group in the southern Philippines.
Usman was the other target in the botched police Special Action Force (SAF) operation on January 25 in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao. He got away in the operation that killed Malaysian bombmaker Zulkifli bin hir or "Marwan" but also 44 elite cops, 17 MILF members, and 5 civilians. (READ: Abdul Basit Usman: The one that got away)
In the aftermath of the tragedy, President Benigno Aquino III promised in a televised speech that the government will get Usman.
Known as the Mamasapano clash, the encounter became one of the worst security crises to hit the Aquino administration, and endangered the peace process between the Philippine government and the MILF after 17 years of negotiations.
Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr said the hunt for Usman has always been a joint effort with the MILF.
"We are putting closure to the Mamasapano incident. This will help in the peace effort," Catapang said. – with reports from Bea Cupin and Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com