MIDSAYAP, Cotabato — A fire fight erupted when joint government forces were to serve warrants of arrest against a certain Commander Mabrook, leader of armed elements in Barangay Nabalawag, Midsayap, (North) Cotabato at 4:30 a.m. Sunday.
The clash resulted into at least eight persons killed and eight soldiers wounded during thr anti-drug operations before dawn in a remote village here, authorities said.
An Army report identified four of the fatalities as PO3 Darwin Espallardo of the North Cotabato PNP, Cpl. Jose Miravalles, Pfc. Jaypee Duran, both of Division Reconnaissance Company and an unidentified military guide.
Four followers of Commander Mabrook, including his brother, were also killed in the six-hour fighting.
Capt. Joan Petinglay, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, said eight government forces sustained minor injuries and are undergoing medication at Camp Siongco hospital.
She said that Mabrook and his followers were engaged in illegal drug activities in the boundary of North Cotabato and Maguindanao. It was not clear if Mabrook was among those killed or arrested.
According to Col. Noly Samarita, commander of the Army’s 602nd Brigade, said elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), North Cotabato police, military and the 6th Infantry Division Recon Company were approaching the village when they were fired upon by armed men.
A military report identified five of the eight wounded in action as Sgt. Arinio Grafil, Cpl. Diocesar Espanola, Pfc. Romnick Clerigo, Privates Normel Grande and Edgar Gegone, all of the 6th Division Reconnaissance Company.
Senior Supt. Emmanuel Peralta, chief of the Cotabato provincial police, said the target of operations was Moks Masgal alias “Commander Mabrook,” a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) sub-leader with about 50 armed followers.
Peralta said Masgal was believed to be distributing shabu in the borders of North Cotabato and Maguindanao.
A civilian, identified as Daib Malimbas, a resident of Nabalawag, was killed during the shootout.
Two MG-520 attack helicopters provided air support, forcing Commander Mabrook and his men to flee deep into the Maguindanao marshland.
Several packs of methamphetamine hydrochloride were seized from the village. (PNA report)
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