AN Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militant transporting improvised explosive devices was arrested in Patikul, Sulu, the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said on Friday.
Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, WestMinCom spokesman, said soldiers of the 45th Infantry Battalion (IB) intercepted Miham Saham at a checkpoint in Barangay Buhanginan at about 6 p.m. on Thursday.
She said soldiers put up the blockade after receiving an intelligence report that Saham was transporting explosives to the village. Saham, 24, did not resist when troops stopped him at the checkpoint and yielded ammunition nitrate, fuel oil in a container fitted with a detonating cord, electrical wires and an electronic circuit assembly.
The 45IB is now interrogating Saham, reportedly a follower of top ASG leader Radullan Sahiron, to extract information on the activities of the Abu Sayyaf whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS).
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said informants positively identified Saham who was previously associated with the groups of slain sub-leaders Hairulla Asbang and Alhabsy Misaya.
The arrested bandit was also linked to the group of sub-leader Alden Bagadi, alias Sayning, who is his cousin.
His capture came a day after troops clashed with militants in Talipao town, about 28 kilometers from Patikul. The fighting left five gunmen dead and five soldiers wounded in Upper Binuang village. Solcdiers recovered the bodies of the slain Abu Sayyaf fighters and two automatic rifles, one of them with a grenade launcher, Petinglay said.
Military records show that 299 ASG members had either been killed, arrested or surrendered within Western Mindanao.
WITH JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL and DEMPSEY REYES