Military and police officials are verifying reports that wanted Filipino bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman has been sighted in Basilan.
Various reports said that Usman, who has a US$1-million bounty on his head, was spotted with 10 armed men, four of whom were foreign-looking, in an area where rogue group Abu Sayyaf operates.
Former Ungkaya Pukan town mayor Joel Maturan disclosed information relayed to him by a Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander that Usman and a group of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have been seen in a remote village in Tuburan.
Meanwhile, Basilan Police Provincial Director Senior Superintendent Mario Buyuccan said his team received word on Usman’s sighting over the weekend and has reported said information to PNP-ARMM.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police regional director Chief Supt. Ronald Estilles, has directed the Basilan PNP to verify the report while Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma, commander of Joint Task Force Zambasulta (Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi), said the military is also confirming said report.
Usman was last seen on surveillance video with slain international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan a week before the Malaysian was neutralized in the January 25 Mamasapano operation.
Sources said Usman may have slipped out of Maguindanao at the height of military offensives against the BIFF.