• Police: Jihadists resort to car theft, liquidation

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    POONABAYABAO, Lanao del Sur: Local jihadists linked to international movement IS, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have reportedly resorted to liquidation operations in urban areas after government forces recently bombarded their lairs in the hinterlands of Butig, Lanao del Sur.

    Joint elements of the military and the police on Tuesday recovered the cadaver of a carjacking victim believed to have been buried by the local jihadists several days ago.

    The body of Diodome Dialan dela Peña, 60, of Opol town in Misamis Oriental was found in Barangay Ragayan here by members of the Marawi City-based Philippine Army 103rd Infantry Brigade and the Provincial Police Office.

    Dela Pena was also believed to have been killed on the same day when his Toyota Van D4D was hijacked on February 22 by the local jihadists linked to ISIS.

    The carjacking could not be validated at the time until the group attempted to steal another vehicle on February 24 that resulted in the death of their members and capture of another one in pursuit operations in Lanao del Norte.

    Senior Supt. Oscar Nantes, provincial police director, said the detained suspect, Diamen Canulo Alonto alias Eyemen, admitted the group’s role in the carjacking and disclosed to authorities the location of dela Pena’s cadaver.

    Alonto did not provide further details about the car stealing operations of the group.

    The suspect was arrested on February 24 in Iligan City while driving the suspects’ getaway vehicle on the same day when government forces engaged members of the jihadists in Tagoloan, also in Lanao del Norte.

    A certain “Wowie” and Azzam Ampatua known as Hamdan, of Tamparan town in Lanao del Sur who is said to be the “butcher” of the jihadist group, were killed in the clash.

    Recovered from the suspects were M16 bushmaster and two 45 caliber pistols, a fragmentation grenade and the stolen Ford Ranger vehicle.

    Authorities also seized from Ampatua and Wowie a logbook containing a list of persons liquidated by the group including names of some prosecutors.

    Ampatua was responsible for the beheading of two sawmill workers – Salvador Hanobas alias Tado and Makol Hanobas alias Macky – on April 11, 2016 and Army Corporal Engel Cubillas during the first clashes between government forces and the rebels in Butig in February last year.

    Intelligence authorities believed the liquidation could be part of the group’s process of recruiting new members having lost more members as government forces continue pursuit operations against the jihadists.

    The sources said carjacking is not new for the group, citing an old case of Earl Jordan Liao Membreve who went missing and could not be found since October 21, 2012 with his Ford Escape.

    Security alerts were heightened in the entire region 10 and parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for possible attacks by the jihadists, who were blamed for bombings in various parts of the country.

    The jihadists’ attacks resumed lately after its head Isnilon Hapilon reportedly rejected proposed ceasefire talks between government emissaries and the group during his recent visit to Butig.

    Hapilon was installed last year as the leader of de facto IS caliphate in the country as well as in the entire Southeast Asian region.

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