'Prime suspect' in ambush of Lanao del Sur gov Adiong killed in manhunt ops

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 5) — The alleged "prime suspect" in the ambush of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. last February was killed in a manhunt operation on Wednesday afternoon, the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said.

The CIDG said the suspect identified as Oscar Gandawali opened fire at the arresting officers. This triggered the authorities to retaliate that led to a firefight.

"During the said operation, the accused opened fire towards the approaching arresting team, hitting and wounding an Army troop and Brgy Chairman Gamon Manonggiring," the CIDG said in a statement Friday. "This prompted the authorities to retaliate leading to a brief firefight that resulted in the neutralization of the accused."

The wounded soldier and barangay chairman were rushed to the hospital.

Seized during the operations were firearms, ammunitions, and a few sachets of illegal substances.

On Feb. 17, Adiong and his companions were attacked by gunmen as they passed by Maguing town on their way to Wao. The governor was hurt, while four of his aides were killed.

According to CIDG director Police BGen. Romeo Caramat Jr., Gandawali was among the most wanted persons in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and in Lanao del Sur.

He is also the leader of Gandawali Criminal Gang which is "engaged in gun-for-hire, gunrunning, robbery/hold-up, and proliferation of illegal drugs in Lanao del Sur and adjacent provinces," Caramat also said.

The group is also known to be the financer and supporter of ISIS-inspired rebels in the province, he added.