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At least 43 Philippine police commandos were killed in a fierce battle with Muslim guerrillas after launching an assault in which they may have killed one of south-east Asia’s most-wanted terrorists, officials said on Monday.
A police Special Action Force member remained missing while 11 others were wounded in the day-long clashes on Sunday in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province in the biggest single-day combat loss for the Philippine government in recent memory, officials said.
The interior secretary, Mar Roxas, called the commandos “fallen heroes” who sacrificed their lives to try to capture Malaysian bombing suspect Zulkifli bin Hir, or Marwan. The top terror suspect may have been killed by the commandos, he said.
Another top terror suspect, Abdul Basit Usman, managed to escape, according to Roxas.
Philippine police commandos recover the bodies of their comrades on Monday. Photograph: Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images
After attacking Marwan, the police commandos came under fire from hardline Muslim insurgents in the marshy village of Tukanalipao while some strayed elsewhere and got entangled in a firefight with insurgents belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front national police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said.
The United States has offered up to $5m (£3m) for Marwan’s capture and $1m for Usman. Both have been blamed by US and Philippine authorities for deadly bomb attacks and providing bomb-making training to al-Qaida-linked militants in the country’s south.
Source: The Guardian
Related: Scores of Philippine Police Officers Killed in Firefight With Rebels
MANILA — At least 43 police officers in the southern Philippines were killed during an attempt to capture one of Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorism suspects, police and government officials said on Monday.