The Philippine National Police (PNP) has reactivated an elite anti-terror unit following the series of bombings in Mindanao and the emergence of a new jihadist movement in the region.
Task Force Sanlahi was reactivated last week by the PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima, on orders from President Benigno Aquino 3rd, according to PNP spokesman Sr. Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac.
The task force will still be under the supervision of the PNP Intelligence Group and will be headed by Sr. Supt. Alen Bantolo, the deputy chief for administration of the Intelligence Group, Sindac said.
The group, which will likely be based in Mindanao, will be composed of a company from the Special Action Force (SAF), the elite strike unit of the PNP.
The reactivation of Sanlahi came on the heels of series of bombings in Mindanao in the past weeks, which claimed the lives of 16 people.
An explosion in a restaurant in Cagayan de Oro City last July 26 killed eight people and wounded scores. Authorities blame it on the Khilafa Islamiya, a newly formed group of jihadists.
The Cagayan de Oro bombing was followed a week later by another explosion in Cotabato City that killed eight people.
Khilafa Islamiya was established by Ustadz Human Abdul Najid, who is among those charged by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for the bombing in Cagayan de Oro.
Members of the Khilafa Islamiya, according to an intelligence assessment report seen by The Manila Times, were trained in bombmaking in Central Mindanao, a known bailiwick of Moro rebels.
Police estimate that the Khilafa Islamiya has around 40 regular members, eight of them hardcore followers.