PAGADIAN CITY – Security forces captured Wednesday an Abu Sayyaf bomber tagged as behind a deadly attack in Zamboanga City in January 2015 and also linked by the military to an ISIS suicide bombing in Lamitan City in July last year.
Army Capt. Clint Antipala, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, said soldiers and police commandos raided an Abu Sayyaf hideout in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Naga town and captured Isnaji Hasim.
Hasim is a henchman of notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Puruji Indama in Basilan province, but it was not immediately known whether he and his pro-ISIS group are planning an attack.
“We still do not know whether they are up to something or planning an attack, but interrogation is going on,” Antipala told The Times by phone from his headquarters in Labangan town in Zamboanga del Sur province.
Antipala said the bomber was tracked down in the village of Bangkaw-Bangkaw after a long and careful intelligence operation and information passed to authorities by former militants and civilians.
Hasim and another Abu Sayyaf bomber Hashim Saripa also facilitated the suicide bombing at a military checkpoint in Basilan’s Lamitan City by Moroccan ISIS soldier Abu Katheer al Maghribi on July 31, 2018.
Philippine authorities said 11 people were killed when a car bomb exploded at a security checkpoint after government militias stopped a suspicious vehicle the bomber was driving in the village, about 2 kilometers away from downtown Lamitan.
The powerful explosion obliterated the vehicle and left a huge crater and among those killed were a woman and a child; and the militia commander whose unit was under the supervision of the Philippine Army. Five soldiers and several civilians were also wounded in the explosion. The Moroccan bomber came from a nearby town and heading to downtown Lamitan when his vehicle was stopped at the checkpoint.
Lt. Col. Don Templonuevo, commander of the 44th Infantry Battalion, who captured the bomber, said Hasim was behind the January 2015 car bombing outside a bus terminal in Guiwan village in Zamboanga City that killed 2 people and wounded nearly five dozens more.
He said they seized an automatic rifle, a hand grenade and an improvised explosive device, including blasting caps and other bomb paraphernalia from Hasim’s hideout.
Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, the division commander and head of the anti-terror task force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces), praised the terrorist’s capture and lauded the units involved in the operation and those who provided intelligence that resulted in the arrest of Hasim.
“Trust, confidence and support of civilians, stakeholders and local government units to our troops resulted in a successful law enforcement operation,” he said. (Zamboanga Post)
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