Abu Sayyaf Group behind blast in Lamitan, Basilan – AFP

Marje Pelayo   •   July 31, 2018   •   5559

(Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army)

 

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed on Tuesday (July 31) that the driver of the van that exploded at a checkpoint in Barangay Colonia in Lamitan, Basilan was a member of an Abu Sayyaf Group unit led by Furuji Indama.

AFP Spokesperson Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo said the military had received an intelligence report prior to the incident that Indama’s group were planning to deploy explosive devices around Basilan. The report prompted the authorities to deputize and intensify all checkpoints in the province.

Arevalo, however, noted that there is no confirmation yet to reports that the driver was a foreigner.

He asks the public to refrain from using the phrases “lone wolf attack” or “car or suicide bombing” while the investigation is still underway.

“Huwag na po nating dagdagan pa ang pangamba na naramdaman ng ating mga kababayan sa Basilan. Huwag na po nating dagdagan sa pamamagitan ng iba’t ibang mga haka-haka, mga opinyon at impormasyon na wala naman pong validation o verification,” Arevalo appealed.

The AFP Spokesperson called the group’s move as an act of desperation to stop other ASG members from returning to the government side.

“Napakarami na nang sumukong miyembro ng Abu Sayyaf. They come in groups with their firearms at ito ang gusto nilang mapahinto. They are losing their grounds that’s why ito ang kanilang resort na ginagawa sa ngayon,” Arevalo explained.

Nevertheless, the official assured that the “local police and AFP personnel are not stopping their investigation and they are pursuing every lead to identify and neutralize all those who are part of this abominable attempt by terrorists to kill innocent civilians and destroy properties.

Malacañang, meanwhile, condemned the terror attack that claimed the lives of 11 people and injuring seven others.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the latest terrorist attack in Basilan perpetrated in by a violation of our laws,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement.

Despite the loss of lives, the AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. “commended the vigilance and dedication to duty and the sacrifices of the gallant men who have foiled the attempt to bring in a vehicle loaded with IED’s to downtown Lamitan City at the cause of their own lives.”

Members of the PNP-ARMM have intensified their checkpoints, foot patrols, and police visibility to thwart more terror attempts in the province. – Lea Ylagan / Marje Pelayo

Daulah Islamiya recruiter in Luzon nabbed in Quezon City

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Alleged liaison officer and recruiter of Daulah Islamiyah terrorist group, Kevin Madriñan, was nabbed in Quezon City on Saturday (September 19).

The operation was launched through the joint efforts of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Intelligence Group and the Quezon City Police District.

Authorities, however, stressed that the presence of Abu Sayyaf Group in Metro Manila cannot be considered a security threat at the moment even after Madrinañ’s arrest.

Madriñan, who goes with aliases Ibrahim Abdullah Madriñan or Ibrahim Khalil Al-Garaba, is connected with ASG Commander Mundi Sawadjaan who was behind the twin bombing in Jolo, Sulu on August 24, and with Abu Turaife of the Daulah Islamiyah based in Central Mindanao.

“Maganda iyan at nahuhuli natin at namo- monitor natin ng husto. Nakikita natin kung sino ang mga pinupuntahan nila (It’s good that we are able to capture and strictly monitor their whereabouts),” Cascolan said.

“Ang isa po dyan hindi nila basta basta magagawa iyan kung walang tulong ng komunidad (Also, they wouldn’t be able to move freely without help from the community),” he added.

Cascolan added that the PNP is now investigating whether Madriñan had plans to stage a terrorist attack in Metro Manila and in public places.

“Nakikiusap kami palagi sa komunidad na kung merong mga kahina- hinalang mga tao na umiikot sa mga lugar niyo, ireport po agad sa mga pinakamalapit na police station (We ask the community to report to the nearest police station any suspicious-looking individuals in your area),” the PNP chief said.

The PNP is encouraging the Muslim community to report to the authorities any sightings of unidentified persons or suspicious persons in their area. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

4 killed in military chopper crash in Basilan

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2020

Four people were killed after a rescue helicopter belonging to the Philippine Air Force crashed in Lantawan town in the province of Basilan on Wednesday.

Authorities said the bodies of the casualties have been recovered by the members of the 4th Special Forces Battalion dispatched to conduct a search and rescue operation at the crash site.

Initial investigation showed that the chopper, believed to be flying from Zamboanga City to an unknown destination, crashed in a rubber plantation in Barangay Upper Manggas in Lantawan around 1 p.m.

Authorities said the chopper went down during a bad weather but investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing.

They are also verifying the identities of the fatalities and whether they were all Air Force personnel. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Val Villaflor)

AFP hunts down Abu Sayyaf leader, other suspects in Jolo twin blasts

Robie de Guzman   •   August 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities are now pursuing the persons behind the twin bombings that rocked the Jolo town in the province of Sulu on Monday.

Major General Corleto Vinluan Jr., the newly-installed chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the explosions were perpetrated by Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Mundi Sawadjaan with the help of a still unidentified female suicide bomber.

Vinluan said Sawadjaan and his group were the ones behind the bombing of Jolo Cathedral in January 2019 which killed 23 people and injured 109 others.

The military have been tracking Sawadjaan and his group since May and he was also the target of pursuing four Army Intelligence officers before they were shot dead on June 29 by Jolo police officers, according to the military official.

Vinluan said they received information about the group’s plan to launch an attack but they lost track of Sawadjaan when the four soldiers were killed.

Had Sawadjaan and the suicide bombers been captured, Monday’s twin bombings probably would have been avoided, he said.

“Actually yun ‘yung sinusundan namin nung, kaya nga may namatay na apat na sundalo nu’n di ba, ang target nila ‘yung suicide bombers plus si Mundi Sawadjaan. ‘Yun ang target natin nu’n na hindi naituloy dahil nga sa nangyari,” he said.

But Brigadier General Manuel Abu, director of Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, maintained that the shooting incident could have been avoided if the soldiers coordinated their moves with the local police.

Abu also said they would have also helped in the operation if the slain military men informed the local police.

“Walang coordination din eh, kung sila ba naman ‘yung mga napatay ay, nirespeto nila ‘yung mga naka-uniporme at hindi nila parang tinarayan, ay di baka hindi natuloy pati itong bombing, nagkatulungan pa ang PNP at AFP, di ba?” he said.

Monday’s twin blasts at Barangay Walled City in Jolo killed 14 people – seven soldiers, one policeman and six civilians – and injured 75 others.

The first explosion occurred just before noon beside Paradise Food Shop while the second blast transpired an hour later about 100 meters away from the first blast site.

Authorities said the first explosive device could have been planted on a motorcycle they found parked near the KM450 military truck. The second explosion was a suicide bomb carried by an unidentified female.

The municipality has been placed under total lockdown until the probe into the incident is completed. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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