A local official in the town of Pikit in the southern Philippine province of North Cotabato came out to debunk reports of a rubout in an armed encounter between government security forces and “lawless” elements on December 29.
“There was no rubout or massacre during the police operation, it was an encounter,” said Datu Turno Sultan, head of the town’s village officials, during a media briefing.
He said the armed encounter broke out after several armed men fired at a police convoy, wounding four policemen who were on their way to serve an arrest warrant against a suspect of a string of murder cases.
The ensuring firefight lasted about three hours, resulting in the death of five armed men and the wounding of the policemen.
Police provincial director Col. Henry Villar said the area where the encounter happened was “a haven of lawless elements” who are involved in assassinations, carjacking and the illegal drug trade.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front earlier claimed that the area is under its control.
Lt. Col. Ruben Ramos, provincial chief of the police Highway Patrol Group, said at least 20 motorcycles from the 400 that were recovered from the area were proven to be stolen.
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