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Sayyaf commander wanted in Malaysia slain in Sulu Sea clash

SULU – A notorious commander of the Abu Sayyaf group tagged as behind the spate of cross-border kidnappings in the Malaysian state of Sabah was reported killed in southern Philippines.

Salvador Muktadil – also in Malaysia’s wanted list of criminals – was killed in a sea clash late Saturday with security forces pursuing him off the coast of Parang town in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

Elite troops intercepted Muktadil’s speedboat after receiving intelligence report that he was in the area. It was unknown if Muktadil was fleeing military operations in Sulu or heading to the province.

There was no immediate statement or confirmation from the Western Mindanao Command on the reported killing of Muktadil, whose base of operation was in Tawi-Tawi province, also in the autonomous region near Sabah.

Malaysia has tightened its security since May for fear that ISIS militants fighting security forces in Marawi City in southern Philippines may escape the government offensive and slip into Sabah.

It also included Abu Sayyaf chieftain and local ISIS leader Isnilon Hapilon, and jihadist militant Abdullah Maute on its wanted list along with other commanders Idang Susukan, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Majan Sahidjuan and Salvador Muktadil – all implicated in cross-border kidnappings over the years.

The tight security was ordered by the Eastern Sabah Security Command under Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Abdul Khalid, who also appealed to Malaysian citizens to stay vigilant and report suspicious persons to authorities.

Hapilon and Maute were among a group of jihadist leader who occupied Marawi on May 23 in an effort to put up an Islamic State province in the restive Muslim region of Mindanao. Some of the jihadist leaders fighting in the besieged city include Malaysian Mahmud bin Ahmad and other foreign militants.

Last September, the Philippine military also killed brothers Nixon and Brown Muktadil in fighting on Tambulian Island off Sulu’s Pata town. The Muktadil brothers were behind the kidnappings of at least 26 Indonesian and Malaysian nationals, mostly crew members of slow-moving tugboats in Sabah. (Mindanao Examiner)

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