NEUTRALIZED. Anti-drug operatives account for the shabu PHP182,250 items recovered from a drug syndicate in Matalam, North Cotabato, on Thursday (June 1, 2023). Three suspects were killed in the operation while another was arrested following a shootout. (Photo collage courtesy of Matalam MPS)

MATALAM, North Cotabato – Police, backed by soldiers, killed three suspects and arrested another following a shootout during an anti-drug operation here, police said Friday.

Lt. Col Arniel Melocotones, municipal police chief, identified those slain as Abdulkarim Unsil, the principal target of the operation, and alleged accomplices Gerald Mangiling and Kanacan Unsil, all of Barangay Marbel.

Arrested was Harold Singcala Kalunsing, 23, of the same village.

Armed with a search warrant from a local court, the police-military team swooped down on Unsil’s hideout in Sitio Kisupit, Barangay Marbel on Thursday morning but was met with gunfire from the suspects, Melocotones said.

“Our team was forced to retaliate which resulted in the shootout and death of the three suspects,” he added.

Recovered from the Unsil group’s hideout were “shabu” items worth PHP182,250; two .45-caliber pistols, a .38-caliber revolver, and ammunition.

Seven motorcycles were also seized and were turned over to the custody of the police's Highway Patrol Group for further verification. (PNA)