THE LEADER of local terrorist group Dawlah Islamiya was killed by security forces during a brief gunfight in Marawi City early Wednesday, the regional police chief said.

Bangsamoro Police Regional Director Allan C. Nobleza said the joint military and police team were to serve several warrants of arrest issued against Faharudin Pumbuaya Pangalian, also known as known as Abu Zacharia and was considered the “emir” or ruler of the Islamic State-linked group.

Mr. Nobleza reported that the Dawlah Islamiya head, who was wanted for more than 20 high-profile criminal cases pending in different courts, resisted arrest and provoked a gunfight.

He said the operation, intended to peacefully arrest Faharudin Pangalian, involved different military and police units and intelligence agents of the Army-led anti-terror Task Force Marawi under the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom).

Members of the multi-sector Lanao del Sur Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) told the media that Maranao villagers supportive of the peace and security programs of Gov. Mamintal A. Adiong, Jr. reported the presence of Mr. Pangalian in Marawi’s Sarimanok area to authorities.   

Mr. Adiong, chairman of the Lanao del Sur PPOC, last week called on his Muslim and Christian constituents to help security forces clear all of the city’s villages and the province’s 39 towns from Dawlah Islamiya presence.

“We are thankful to the vigilant Marawi City residents who led the joint Army and police raiding team to the hideout of Abu Zacharia,” WestMinCom Commander Roy M. Galido said.

Mr. Pangalian was the leader of all Dawlah Islamiya groups in Mindanao and was recently proclaimed “East Asian emir” by supporters. He also had links with the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Both groups have a reputation for fomenting hatred for non-Muslims and are together tagged in all deadly bomb attacks in Mindanao since 2014.

“We are bracing for possible retaliations. (But) we will never give his sympathizers a chance to do that,” Mr. Nobleza said.

More than 300 members of both groups have surrendered since late 2021, according to police and military records.

Police forensic experts found grenades, improvised explosive devices and two M16 assault rifles in Mr. Pangalian’s hideout. — John M. Unson