MANILA - It was a plan that reportedly took years in the making.
Former and current police officials said Oplan Wolverine, the operation to take out terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, was allegedly hatched by suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and PNP-Special Action Force chief Getulio Napenas.
Officials have claimed PNP-SAF operatives successfully killed Marwan, an alleged bomb maker who has a $5-million bounty on his head.
The operation also led to the killing of 44 elite police commandos after they were attacked by both Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters after taking out Marwan on Sunday, January 25.
Information received by ABS-CBN News revealed the operation got the green light at 10 p.m. Saturday.
At 4 a.m. Sunday (January 25), the group of SAF commandos arrived at the suspect's hut and executed the plan.
Marwan was able to fight back but was gunned down by police commandos. He sustained bullet wounds on the chest and arm.
The commandos then took a DNA sample and a picture of the corpse for visual confirmation.
The SAF group then fought supporters of Marwan and another terror suspect, Abdul Basit Usman. Fighters of the MILF's 105th Base Command also joined the firefight, trapping the SAF group.
At 4:15 a.m., a separate SAF company maneuvered to the other side to provide fire support but was attacked by the 1st Brigade of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The BIFF has claimed they were able to recover 10 high-powered firearms from the scene of the firefight, including a 57mm recoilless rifle.
BIFF sources also said some of the commandos survived after jumping to the nearby river.
Early morning: A distress call was made and connected to the 6th ID relaying that there is a SAF mission in the area that needs reinforcements but no further details were given.
Troops were alerted but were put on standby as command is still blind on the details of the botched operation and of the situation on the ground.
At 11 am, tanks and military trucks carrying heavily-armed forces from the 45th Infantry Battalion have already geared up to provide support and to initiate extraction operation.
At 5 pm, a ceasefire was established through the help of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government and MILF. The military forces then proceeded to the area for the extraction of the casualties.