An unidentified gunman ambushed a former Sulu town mayor, who was supposed to stand as a key witness to the 2010 suicide bombing at the Zamboanga International Airport that targeted then-Gov. Sakur Tan and his family.
Police said Ahmad Nanoh, former mayor of Pangutaran town in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, was fatally shot Thursday afternoon while driving his pick-up truck in the village of Tetuan.
The motive of the killing is still being investigated by the police.
Tan and his son Samier – now mayor of Maimbung town – had survived the suicide bombing believed to have been masterminded by the governor’s political opponents. Two people had died from the blast, including the man who brought the bomb, while dozens others were wounded.
Nanoh, who had previously challenged Tan’s rule, reportedly wanted to turn witness and tell the police what knew about the bombing.
It was unknown whether this was connected to the ambush, but Nanoh himself had been implicated in the bombing and he wanted to turn state witness and identify those behind the bombing.
Tan, who is now running as governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), previously suspended Nanoh in relation to alleged anti-graft acts, so that he would not be able to influence the investigation.
Tan’s supporters also accused the online news site Rappler of maliciously implicating the politician, who is now the vice governor of Sulu, to the supposed death threats that Nanoh had allegedly received following an altercation in 2008 at the domestic airport in Manila.
The report, according to Tan’s camp, was politically motivated and without basis, and could only muddle the ongoing investigation into the murder as well as confuse Nanoh’s family.
Tan, who is also a philanthropist, had previously said that he confronted Nanoh once for always being absent. He then defended himself after Nanoh acted as if he was going to attack him.
Also in 2007, Nanoh’s son Darwin was killed in a clash with the group of Basit Ismael, in Pangutaran, an incident that had also left four people wounded.
Basit Ismael was then the newly-appointed port collector of the ARMM’s Regional Ports Authority. Apparently, Ismael’s group arrived in town and wanted to immediately take over as port collector, a position held by Nanoh. An altercation ensued, resulting in a firefight.