Suspected Abu Sayyaf bomber arrested

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Joint army and police forces raided a village outside a military base hosting United States (US) troops in Zamboanga City and arrested a suspected Abu Sayyaf bomber, officials said on Sunday.

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Officials said policemen, backed by soldiers, swooped down on the 5th Street in Southcom village outside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters and arrested the militant who goes by the name Abu Jomar.

Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the militant was arrested following a long surveillance operation.

“The raid resulted to the apprehension of Abu Jomar, who is a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group and an explosives expert,” she told The Manila Times.

Muyuela said the weekend raid was covered by a search warrant issued by a local judge Gregorio Dela Peña III. She said troops also seized a still undetermined number of blasting caps, electrical wirings and tapes, and a mobile phone from Abu Jomar, who is being interrogated to determine if his group is plotting to bomb Zamboanga City.

Muyuela said the operation against the Abu Sayyaf is continuing in Zamboanga and other areas in the region.

“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,” she said.

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.

Recently, police also captured a 36-year old Abu Sayyaf militant, Harijin Jinny, in downtown Zamboanga while working as a security guard at 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.

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