MARAWI CITY – Security forces are holding 8 members of a jihadist group – including three women – tagged as behind the series of terrorism in southern Philippines, officials said Tuesday.
Officials said army soldiers and policemen intercepted the group while transporting explosives in a van in the village of Nanagun in Lumbayanague town in Lanao del Sur province.
Troops seized from the jihadists two pipe bombs, two fragmentation grenades, one improvised explosive assembled from an 81mm mortar, two .45-caliber pistols and electronic triggering devices.
Officials said those arrested also gave out different names to mislead authorities, but army and police interrogators later found out that all those intercepted are members and relatives of Abdullah Maute, who founded the Dawlah Islamiya or “Islamic State” in southern Philippines.
Interrogation reports revealed the gang was plotting to bomb civilian targets in the volatile region, according to army Major Filemon Tan, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.
He said the daring interception and arrest of the jihadists was largely due to the intelligence provided by civilians in the province.
“The fast reaction of troops and the information of concerned citizens was the key for thwarting a terror attack intended to kill innocent people in populated target areas. IEDs do not select its victims, children, Christians or Muslims, young and old, lahat papatayin niyan and in a wide scale kaya napakalaking bagay na hindi natuloy ito dahil na din sa cooperation ng taong-bayan at responde ng sundalo at pulis,” Tan said.
Just recently, security forces killed 3 members of another jihadist group called Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP) in Daliao village in nearby Sarangani’s Maasim town and troops recovered improvised explosives from the slain militants. Both the AKP and Maute group pledged allegiance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and pledged to support each other in fighting the Philippine government. (Mindanao Examiner)
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