PHILIPPINE NEWS, MANILA – The Philippine government is still awaiting confirmation from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, aka Marwan, was indeed killed during the ill-fated police commando operation in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao last Sunday.
In a press briefing, Herminio Coloma Jr., Presidential Communications Operations Office head, told reporters ”Inaantabayanan po natin ‘yan at sinisikap naman na sa lalong madaling panahon ay matamo ang kompirmasyon.”
DNA samples had been taken from the body, thought to be that of the Malaysian terrorist, and sent last week to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, for confirmation.
However, a MILF commander has since said a photograph of a corpse circulating on social media, was not that of Marwan, though did claim that Marwan had died from his injuries, after escaping from the scene at Mamasapano.
Although the FBI had offered a $5-million reward for information on Marwan, it claimed to have had no prior knowledge of the police raid.
“The FBI was not involved in the planning or execution of the operation. We do express our deepest condolences to the brave officers of the Philippine National Police who lost their lives in the line of duty,” FBI spokesman Josh Campbell said.
The US embassy in Manila has also denied a report by a human rights group that a US soldier was amongst the casualties.
The group, Suara Bangsamoro, claims a farmer in Mamasapano reported seeing the body of a “blue-eyed foreigner” after the firefight in barangay Tukanalipao.
“Our source was among the residents who went at the scene of encounter after the rebels withdrew,” said Amirah Ali Lidasa, national spokesperson of Suara Bangsamoro. “He described to us the slain soldier having blue-eyes. He even touched the nose of the slain trooper,” she added.
In response, US embassy spokesman, Kurt Hoyer, said the US only helped in evacuating the casualties. “At the request of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” confirming “There were no US service member casualties.”
44 elite police commandos and 17 MILF fighters were killed and many wounded in the firefight, that lasted from dawn until early afternoon. Several civilians, including an 8 year old girl and a man with his hands bound together, were also killed in the crossfire.