ZAMBOANGA CITY: Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar praised local police and the military following the recovery of two suspected Abu Sayyaf bombs in a village in Zamboanga City.
Police found two 60 mm mortar shells hidden in a bush at Sitio Salom in San Roque village.
“We thank police and military operatives for their aggressive efforts to avert security threats with the recovery of improvised explosive devices in San Roque,” Salazar said, adding the recovery of the bombs was the result of a follow up operation following the arrest of two Abu Sayyaf militants here.
“Police recovered two 60 mm projectile mortars in a secluded area in San Roque in a follow-up operation resulting from the arrest of two suspected lawless elements in the area recently. The timely response of the authorities foiled possible threats to the city’s security,” she said.
Salazar also urged the public to stay vigilant and help authorities by reporting suspicious persons or abandoned baggage in villages.
“We urge the public to be proactive by coordinating with police and military authorities. Report the presence of suspicious persons, items and activities in your area. Public safety is everyone’s priority,” she said.
The recovery of the bombs followed the arrest of Abu Sayyaf bomber Nujir Ahidji during a raid at Southcom Village just outside the military’s Western Mindanao Command hosting United States (US) forces in Zamboanga City on May 17.
“The recovery of the mortar bombs was the result of intelligence operation,” police regional spokesman Senior Insp. Joseph Ortega told The Manila Times.
It was unknown who hid the bombs in the village, but Ortega said police are still investigating Ahidji to determine the identities of other Abu Sayyaf militants hiding in Zamboanga.
The military said it is also hunting down militants in Zambo–anga and nearby areas.
“The Western Mindanao Command and the Philippine National Police are jointly intensifying law enforcement operations in order to eliminate criminal activities through expeditious arrest of remaining leaders and members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless elements,” said Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, a military spokeswoman.
The Western Mindanao Command is one of several military bases in southern Philippines where the US maintains a high-security facility under the command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines which is helping local troops fight terrorism.
Earlier this month, police captured 36-year-old Abu Sayyaf member Harijin Jinny in downtown Zamboanga while working as a security guard on a store just outside the police headquarters.
Last month, police commandos raided an Abu Sayyaf hideout in Zamboanga’s Santa Maria village and killed two militants and captured six more following a firefight that wounded one policeman. Commandos recovered four .45-caliber pistols and three fragmentation grenades from the hideout.