ZAMBOANGA CITY: Police arrested two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants in a raid on a village in Zamboanga City on Friday aborting an alleged bomb plot by the group.
The militants – Abdul-Latip Talanghati, 64, alias “Latip Sihata’ and Albashrie Talanghati alias ‘Abu Tarik’ – are natives of Luuk town, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold in Sulu.
Seized from the duo were one pound of TNT, detonating cord and time fuse.
Supt. Rogelio Alabata, police regional spokesman, said the arrest on Friday was part of the intensified anti-terror operations following intelligence reports that the Abu Sayyaf was plotting to bomb civilian targets in Zamboanga.
He said Abdulatip was also tagged as among those involved in the kidnapping of 21 European holidaymakers in a cross-border raid in Sabah, Malaysia in 2000.
Abdulatip has a P5.3-million bounty for his arrest.
Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, regional police chief, commended the policemen for the arrest of the militants that aborted possible bombing or any terror act. He also urged the public to continue supporting the police force by providing information on suspicion persons or unattended baggage in public places.
Recently, three suspected Abu Sayyaf bombers – Jabar Ignohassimand Asde dela Cruz, both of Jolo town and Abdula Yusof of Talipao town were arrested by the police.
Seized from the them three hand grenades, a caliber .45 pistol and four magazines loaded with bullets; and three rolls of time fuse, two blasting caps and at least a dozen cell phone batteries and two motorcycle.
Police said the suspects were believed to be followers of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya, whose group was tagged as behind the spate of terrorism in Sulu and ransom kidnappings in Sabah.
The arrest of the trio coincided with celebration of the month-long Hermosa Festival in the city. Mayor Beng Climaco has appealed to all hotel owners here to ensure an efficient and effective profiling of guests to help authorities in its anti-crime and anti-terrorism efforts.
Climaco said the profiling of hotel guests should be done all year round. Two pension houses were previously bombed in Zamboanga City.
In October 2011, at least 11 people were killed in a bomb explosion that ripped through a room inside the Red Palm Pension House and at a cockfighting arena during the Hermosa Festival.
The following month, a powerful explosion also destroyed the second floor of the two-storey Atilano Pension House that killed three and wounded more than two dozens people. Police said they traced evidence of TNT from one of the rooms of the pension house, but no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.