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Motorcycle-riding gunmen kill Marawi City's top drug trafficker

 • 23:40 PM Fri Jan 1, 2015
John Unson

COTABATO CITY -- Gunmen shot dead on New Year’s eve the publicly-acknowledged top dealer of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) in Marawi City, touted as the crime capital of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.Highly-placed Police and military sources said Otical Awar, who took advantage of his blood ties and political connections with incumbent local officials to freely engage in large-scale drug trafficking in Marawi City, was killed by two men riding a motorcycle together.Residents of Marawi City never feared acknowledging Awar to outsiders, even to journalists, as the top drug trafficker in the area, whose network involved community leaders and people close to incumbent local officials.Members of the Marawi City police said Awar, whose brother, Abdul Jabbar, is president of the Association of Barangay Captains in the area, died on the spot from gunshot wounds he sustained in the attack.Awar and many of his relatives who are incumbent barangay officials are known staunch supporters of Marawi City Mayor Fahad Pre” Salic.Salic, now in his third and last term as Marawi City mayor, is candidate for provincial governor of Lanao del Sur.Marawi City now tops the list of most hostile areas in ARMM, also known as Islamic City,” where guns-for-hire have been operating with impunity and where shabu is being peddled openly in residential areas, in school campuses and even near mosques.Awar was tagged as mastermind in the 2012 ambush of a team of soldiers near the campus of the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City in retaliation for the death of his brother, who was killed in a joint Army-police anti-narcotics operation several months before.Three soldiers were killed while a dozen others, including innocent residents, were hurt in the attack.Awar’s group was also implicated in the brutal murder of an MSU professor, whose cadaver was burned using kerosene, after the ambush incident.He was prosecuted for the ambush by the central office of the Department of Justice, on the behest of the Army’s 103rdBrigade, which has jurisdiction over Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province.The prosecution of Awar, however, failed to progress for still unknown reason.More than 20 people have been killed by guns-for-hire in Marawi City in the past three months.Awar and his men were also suspected of having perpetrated the fatal ambush in October 2015 of the Marawi City chief of police, Superintendent Al Abner Wahab Santos.Santos was killed just after he launched a crackdown on local drug trafficking activities, which immediately resulted to the arrest of large-scale drug traffickers, mostly related by blood to incumbent public officials.Santos was driving his car on his way to the Marawi City police office from a conference in the nearby Lanao del Sur provincial police office when his attackers opened fire with assault rifles, killing him on the spot.The brutal murder of Santos, who hails from Pagadian City, remained unsolved.

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