COTABATO CITY, April 14 — The founding chairman of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is dead, rebel leaders and local officials today confirmed. Mohaqher Iqbal, chief MILF negotiator, said Uztadz Ameril Umra Kato died at about 2 a.m. Tuesday. He could not say where. BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama confirmed that the group’s founding chair has died. He refused to reveal Kato’s location except saying the area is far and that communication is difficult.
Mayor Samsodin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao also confirmed the death of Kato. Quoting Kato’s relatives and close allies, Dimaukom said the BIFF founding chair suffered a cardiac arrest at 2:30 a.m. today in his hideout in a remote village of Guindulungan, Maguindanao. Dimaukom said relatives and friends, including BIFF members, are now attending to his remains in an undisclosed area in Guindulungan.
Ustadz Wahid Tundok, commander of 118th base command of the MILF, also confirmed reports that Kato, his former superior in the MILF 105th base command, indeed passed away.
Kato, then head of MILF’s 105th base command, bolted from the MILF and formed his BIFF to pursue the armed struggle for the establishment of an Islamic State in Mindanao. Kato was a foreign trained guerilla having fought side by side with the Afgans against the Soviets in the 70s. Kato, will be buried within 24 hours from the time he died according to Islamic tradition. (PNA)