By FROILAN GALLARDO
Special Correspondent .
THE military over the weekend claimed that a suspected leader of the Daesh-inspired Maute Group slain in Lanao del Sur last month was also one of those who carried out the July 26, 2013 bombing at Kyla’s Bar at Limketkai center here.
Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., chief of the Army 103rd Infantry Brigade, identified the slain suspect as Obwaydah Marohombsar a.k.a. Abu Dar who, officials said, was responsible for the 2013 bombing at what used to be known as Rosario Arcade, that left at least 10 people killed, including Misamis Oriental provincial board member Roldan Lagbas, and 46 others wounded.
Brawner said Marohombsar, also the Maute Group’s “last remaining leader,” was one of four suspected terrorists killed March 14 in Tubaran, Lanao del Sur.
Brawner said Marohombsar was also among the Maute Group leaders recorded in a video supposedly planning the attack of Marawi on May 23, 2017.
Marohombsar, an “Aleem” or preacher, was supposed to have been named as “acting Emir of the Islamic State in the Philippines” following the death of Isnilon Hapilon during the Marawi siege but the leadership went to Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, an Abu Sayyaf leader is Sulu.
Brawner said DNA matching results confirmed that one of four men killed March 14 in Tubaran, Lanao del Sur, was, indeed, Marohombsar or Abu Dar.
Separate DNA tests on the body found near the encounter site confirmed beyond doubt that it was Marohombsar. The tests were conducted by the US military and the National Police’s Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco), according to Brawner.
He said the tissues were compared to samples taken from two of Marohombsar’s children who voluntarily gave tissue samples after they were prodded by one of their uncles.
“Both of the tests conducted by the US forces and PNP Soco confirmed it was Abu Dar,” Brawner said.
Marohombsar and three other militants were killed along with four soldiers in an encounter in Tubaran town, Lanao del Sur.
Army soldiers backed by US drones who downlinked vital information, fought the militants for days in the jungle near Tubaran town.
Brawner said that at first they did not recognize Marohombsar because the face was burned beyond recognition by surviving militants who used firewood.
He said there had become suspicious because the body bore tell-tale scars and moles of Marohombsar’s right hand and body.
The military used an enlarged picture of Marohombsar to compare it to the remains.
Brawner said Marohombsar was already dead for two to three days when his body was found, and they immediately asked the police and US forces to conduct the DNA tests.
He said while the Soco took tissues of the body at the encounter site, the US forensic team conducted theirs in Camp Ranao, headquarters of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, where the body was brought.
“Abu Dar’s surviving men tried to hide his death but DNA tests have proven it was him who died that day,” Brawner said.
Brawner said with the death of Marohombsar, a little known Maute leader named “Zacharia” is expected to take his place as leader of the ragtag remnants of the Daesh-inspired armed men in Lanao del Sur.
“Zacharia is not a preacher like Abu Dar. He does not have the same clout,” Brawner said.
He said a P6-million bounty for the capture or death of Marohombsar would be given to the civilian informant who provided the soldiers information about the whereabouts of the militants.