GOVERNMENT forces captured what they described as factory of improvised bombs during an assault on a stronghold of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Monday.
The BIFF encampment in Barangay Dasikil, according to Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade that spearheaded the offensive, is owned by one Mohammad Tambako, one of alleged coddlers and protectors of Filipino bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman.
Usman was among the targets of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) during an anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano that led to the killing of 44 police commandos by the BIFF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“Our troops successfully seized a bomb-making facility after assaulting the enemy positions yesterday [Monday]. The enemy was able to escape but the equipment and materials that are used to fabricate home-made bombs were left behind,” Feliciano said.
Found inside were vital components for making bombs such as mortar fuses, ammonium nitrate, blasting caps and tie wires.
Feliciano said Usman is being coddled by small bands of notorious bandits from two different BIFF groups, one headed by Tambako, who had carried out atrocities against civilians both in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
The other group led by Kagi Karialan has at least 100 armed members, the military said.
Karialan was said to have led attacks on MILF and civilian communities in Kabasalan and Bulol, both in Pikit, North Cotabato, on two separate occasions, displacing at least 25,000 people.
The military said several informants have spotted Usman in bailiwicks of Karialan and Tambako.
Also, five foreigners who are believed to be members of an international terrorist organization, were seen moving with Usman as they evaded their pursuers.
On Sunday, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division led by Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan met with different local government officials in order to shed light on an ongoing “all-out offensive” against the BIFF.
During the meeting, the military officials explained that government forces are hunting down Usman and company who were sighted in the hinterland villages of Shariff Saydona and Mamasapano municipalities.