PAGADIAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 29, 2013) – Government troops clashed with gunmen, whose group was tagged in the spate of kidnappings and killings in the southern Philippines, officials said Friday.
Officials said they were verifying reports that the group’s leader Amie Andi and one of his follower were killed in the clash that occurred in the coastal village of Danganan in Lapuyan town.
Lt. Col. Yegor Rey Barroquillo, Jr., commander of the 44th Infantry Battalion, reported that Andi was probably killed in the 30-minute running gun battle and that villagers also claimed that the body of the notorious bandit leader was taken by his followers.
“According to some civilian witnesses, Amie Andi and one of his companions were seriously wounded during the encounter and believed to have been killed. Andi’s body was not recovered and the military is still verifying the report in the area,” Barroquillo said.
He said Andi is one of the most wanted persons in Zamboanga del Sur and that his group was previously involved in the killings of 6 people, including three children, in the village of Tininghalang also in Lapuyan town last year. The local government offered a P300,000 bounty for the capture of Andi.
General Ricardo Rainier Cruz II, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, ordered troops to hunt down the group of Andi. “I directed the commanders in the area to pursue the lawless elements,” he said.
In November last year, Andi escaped a raid by government soldiers at their hideout in Pagadian City, but troops captured two of his most trusted lieutenants, Montasser Ratarta and Rachmodin Andi.
The military said Andi’s group was behind the kidnappings of Filipino traders and foreigners in Zamboanga Peninsula. Among those kidnapped in the Zamboanga was Irish missionary Michael Sinnott, seized in October 12, 2009 in Pagadian City. Aside from Sinnott, kidnappers also seized Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi in Zamboanga del Sur’s Payao town in June 10, 2007.
And in 1998, gunmen kidnapped Italian missioners Luciano Benedetti in Zamboanga del Norte province and in 1998 and Giuseppe Pierantoni in Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur. It was not immediately known whether Andi was also involved in those kidnappings. (Mindanao Examiner)