Published on May 26, 2015
A police operation, Oplan Exodus, took place on Sunday, January 25, 2015, at Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao, between the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) (allegedly joined by United States Army Special Forces) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Originally a mission to serve arrest warrants for high-ranking terrorists, it led to the deaths of 44 members of SAF, 18 from MILF and 5 from the BIFF, and several civilians, and the death of Zulkifli Abdhir confirmed by the FBI and the PNP at 6:30 p.m. of February 4, 2015 due to a matching DNA result. He was one of FBI's most wanted terrorists. Getulio Napeñas, the relieved SAF commander, estimates about 250 casualties from the combined MILF, BIFF, and private militias during the encounter although this was not confirmed and was met with skepticism since aside from the fact that there was no actual body count, there is no acceptable level of evidence to prove his claim. Napenas' estimate was also debunked by the MILF and by the local government of Mamasapano. The operation caught the attention of many for the relatively high number of police officers killed. The clash has been dubbed as the biggest loss of government elite force in history. The mission was called Oplan Exodus, initially misattributed as Oplan Wolverine by the local media. Oplan Wolverine refers to three of the other nine prior operation attempts targeting Marwan; Oplan Wolverine 1, 2 and 3 launched in December 2012, March and May 2014 respectively. by the PNP-SAF. The incident caused the Philippine Congress to halt the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, effectively endangering the peace process between the government and the MILF. The Federal Bureau of Investigation later participated in identifying Zulkifli's body.