2 Sayyaf bombers captured in Zamboanga

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Security forces captured two Abu Sayyaf militants who were sent to bomb civilian targets in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, officials said on Sunday.

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The duo — Omar Askali and Mukaram Sapie — were captured in separate operations on Saturday in Zamboanga City. Askali was tracked down by soldiers and policemen along Governor Lim Avenue in downtown Zamboanga and Sapie in the village of Taluksangay.

“Government forces thwarted Abu Sayyaf members under top leader Furuji Indama from bombing the city of Zamboanga,” said Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.

She said security forces seized a fragmentation grenade and two identification cards, including a cell phone from Askali, a bomb maker and a trusted aide of Indama who is tagged by authorities as behind the spate of terror attacks and killings in nearby Basilan province.

An improvised explosive and a .45-caliber pistol were also confiscated from Sapie, Petinglay said. Soldiers were searching for a second bomb in the village.

“The area is still being searched for another IED since information from Askali revealed that Mukram was keeping two improvised explosive devices,” she said.

Army Colonel Leonel Nicolas, commander of an anti-terror task force in Zamboanga city, said: “Intelligence reports revealed that the group will bomb public places in the city three days from now. This prompted our troops to conduct a joint operation with the police to capture the bandits and preempt their bomb ploy.”

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