SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Government forces aborted a plan of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to conduct bombing activities in Zamboanga City with the arrest of one of its bomb makers.
Combined forces of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga (JTFZ) and Zamboanga City Police Office launched an operation against ASG member Omar Askali, alias Ayub, along Gov. Lim Avenue in Zamboanga City at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
“Intelligence reports revealed that the group will bomb public places in the city three days from now. This prompted our troops to conduct a joint operation with the police to capture the bandits and preempt their bomb ploy,” Col. Leonel Nicolas, JTF Zamboanga commander, said.
Recovered from Askali were a hand grenade, a cellular phone and two identification cards.
Askali, a trusted follower of top Basilan leader Furuji Indama, is trained in making improvised explosive devices (IED).
Military information also disclosed that Indama dispatched Mukaram Sapie, alias Mukram, and a certain Shayif to conduct bombing operations within the city.
A follow-up operation on Sunday resulted in the arrest of Mukram in Barangay Taluksangay also in Zamboanga City.
Recovered from Mukram was an IED and a .45 caliber pistol.
The area was also being searched for another IED after Ayub revealed that Mukram was keeping two IEDs.
Follow-up operations were still ongoing as of Monday.
“Our successful offensives were complemented by the intensified conduct of intelligence operations and the strengthened collaboration with the police, thus preempting the bandits from executing their terror plan,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command chief, said.