KOTA KINABALU: Notorious cross-border kidnapping mastermind Apo Kahumbo was shot dead by Philippine security forces within 72 hours of his arrest in what is suspected to be a black operation to prevent his eventual release.
The 44-year-old was killed when he purportedly tried to escape while being escorted under heavy guard from a court appearance in Bongao, the administrative capital of Tawi Tawi islands in southern Philippines.
Tawi Tawi police chief Col Joey Salido confirmed yesterday that Mobin Sahibudin Hailil alias Apo Kahumbo was killed by Philippine police on Friday.
He said investigations would be carried out on the shooting of Kahumbo, who was arrested for illegally possessing a .45 Colt loaded with six bullets and an MK2 grenade at a mobile checkpoint at Sanga Sanga village in Tawi Tawi province on Tuesday.
A Philippine police report seen by The Star stated that two security teams from Bangao had escorted Kahumbo to the provincial prosecutor’s office to charge him with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
According to the report, Kahumbo was charged before a judge and later transported along a road at Pagasa village in Bangao to the provincial jail.
“The suspect pulled the firearm of a security team member and resisted. That gave reason for the security team to shoot Kahumbo, resulting in his instant death.
“Team medics immediately applied first aid and brought Kahumbo to the hospital but he was declared DOA (dead on arrival).”
Intelligence sources in Philippines and Malaysia suspected that Kahumbo might have been killed in a “Black Ops”.
They said that it would have been difficult to find him guilty in court as he had the protection of someone influential in southern Philippines.
“It would be difficult to find him guilty on either illegal possession of weapons or kidnapping.
“Security forces know that he would eventually be freed and that is why they executed him,” said one source.
Kahumbo is believed to be one of the masterminds behind several cross-border kidnappings and was a member of Abu Sayyaf, which held hostages snatched from Sabah until ransom was paid.
Kahumbo’s base of operations was the Tawi Tawi chain of islands, less than a half hour from Sabah by boat.
Kahumbo and his group of gunmen were also connected to the notorious gang of kidnappers headed by the Muktadil brothers, who are believed to be responsible for the recent spate of kidnappings from Sabah.
The sources said Kahumbo might have been involved in the Pulau Mabul attack on July 12 when Filipino gunmen shot dead Marine Police Kpl Abdul Rajah Jamuan, 32, and kidnapped his colleague Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26.