Ampatuan patriarch’s men involved in Mamasapano clash, AFP says

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(Photo from left) Commission on Election (Comelec) Commissioner Arthur D. Lim, Comelec Executive Director Jose M. Tolentino Jr., and Smartmatic Program Manager Marlon Garcia, discuss the condition of some 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines (right) during the poll body's "Walk Through" on Friday (March 20, 2015), held at the production area in Comelec Warehouse, Park Drive, Light Industrial Science Park 1, Barangay Diezmo, Cabuyao, Laguna. (MNS photo)

(Photo from left) Commission on Election (Comelec) Commissioner Arthur D. Lim, Comelec Executive Director Jose M. Tolentino Jr., and Smartmatic Program Manager Marlon Garcia, discuss the condition of some 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines (right) during the poll body’s “Walk Through” on Friday (March 20, 2015), held at the production area in Comelec Warehouse, Park Drive, Light Industrial Science Park 1, Barangay Diezmo, Cabuyao, Laguna. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Saturday confirmed the involvement of the private armed group of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. in a firefight with the Philippine National Police Special Action Force in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao on Jan. 25.

“Kasama ‘yung private armed group ni former governor Ampatuan sa Mamasapano [clash],” military spokesman Brig Gen. Joselito Kakilala said.

Kakilala explained that most of the members of the private armed group joined the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters after being implicated in the Maguindanao massacre in 2009.

“Most of them joined Ali Tambako’s group,” Kakilala said, referring to the former vice chairman of the BIFF who was arrested in General Santos City earlier this week.

The Maguindanao massacre resulted in the deaths of 58 people, including 32 journalists, who were in a convoy headed to the Commission on Elections office to register Esmael Mangudadatu as a candidate in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

The Ampatuan patriarch is the principal suspect in the massacre case and is already in government custody.

A witness in the Department of Justice investigation into the Mamasapano clash has tagged a group called “Massacre” as among those that attacked the 55th Special Action Company in a cornfield there.

“Hindi ko alam ang pangalan ng grupo, I will have to check, but the PAG [private armed group] of former Governor Ampatuan was part [of the clash],” he said.

More than 60 people, including 44 police commandos, were killed in the clash, which followed a SAF operation against international terrorists, including Zulkifli bin Hir (Marwan), who was killed during the mission.

The military has launched operations against the BIFF, the MILF splinter group that is believed to be hiding Basit Usman, another target of the SAF operation in Mamasapano. (MNS)

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