MANILA Philippines files criminal charges against 43 Muslim militants in deadly bombings
CRIMINAL complaints have been filed against 43 Muslim militants from two armed groups linked to the Islamic State group for two bomb attacks in the southern Philippines, including a suspected suicide bombing that killed 11 people, police said Monday.
Murder complaints were filed against 18 suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf for a powerful blast on July 31 that killed 11 people and wounded several others in Lamitan city on Basilan island, said Director General Oscar Albayalde, the national police chief. A foreign militant who drove the bomb-laden van died in the suspected suicide attack.
Among those facing charges is an Abu Sayyaf commander, Furuji Indama, who Albayalde said ordered the bombing but remains at large along with nine other suspects.
Eight suspects, including a militant bomb expert, Julamin Arundoh, who police said rigged the van with plastic gallons containing the explosives, have been captured.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said the foreign militant who drove the van targeted a public gathering of about 3000 people in Lamitan city but his vehicle stalled and villagers whom he asked for help became suspicious when they saw unusual wires protruding from plastic gallons in the vehicle.
As army troops approached, the van blew up, killing the militant and 10 other people outside a paramilitary detachment and wounding several villagers.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Lamitan bombing and identified the attacker as Moroccan. However, it cited a greatly inflated military death toll.
Albayalde said criminal complaints were also filed against 25 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, who are blamed for an August 28 bombing that left three people dead as Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat province celebrated its annual founding festival.
Five days after the blast, another deadly bombing hit Isulan, prompting authorities to remove the town and provincial police chiefs and further strengthen already tight security in the volatile region.
“It’s not only a presence there, there should be police intervention that should be carried out like ... searches and checkpoints,” Albayalde said in a news conference in Manila.
The southern Philippines, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist rebellions in the largely Roman Catholic nation, remains under martial law, which President Rodrigo Duterte declared last year to deal with a five-month siege of southern Marawi city by Islamic State grouplinked militants. The disastrous siege left more than 1200 people dead, mostly militants, displaced hundreds of thousands of villagers and sparked fears that Islamic State was gaining a foothold in the region amid defeats in Syria and Iraq.
Extremist factions of Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have aligned themselves with Islamic State. Small but violent, the two groups oppose an autonomy deal Duterte signed with the largest Muslim rebel group in the country, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has dropped secessionism for broader autonomy for minority Muslims in the south. – AP IT was his first encounter with a hanging case while on the job as an ambulance driver, and he wanted to share it on social media with his colleagues.
So Shaik Haziq Fahmi Shaik Nasair Johar whipped out his handphone, snapped a picture of a foreign domestic helper who was found dead, hanging from a fan in a residential unit, and sent it to the WhatsApp chat group of his colleagues from Unistrong Technology, a company that was contracted to respond to medical emergencies on behalf of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
The picture he took of the domestic worker – who cannot be named due to a court order – ended up going viral on social media, sparking police investigations on how it was taken and disseminated.
On Monday, Haziq, 29, was fined S$1500 (K1.68 million) for contravening the Official Secrets Act (OSA), after he admitted to taking and sending the photo on WhatsApp.
Haziq, who has been terminated by Unistrong, is the second person dealt with in court over the incident.
Last month, Haziq’s colleague, Nurrizah Afiqah Hussain, 27, was fined S$3000 after she pleaded guilty to two offences under the OSA.
The former paramedic had sent her boyfriend the photo that Haziq had taken, along with a call sheet issued by the SCDF.
On Monday, the court heard that Haziq, Nurrizah, and two other Unistrong staff responded to a call for a medical emergency on February 1 last year.
Nurrizah took a photo of the call sheet and sent it to her boyfriend via WhatsApp. She later took another photo of the call sheet and sent it to a WhatsApp chat group comprising 19 employees from Unistrong.
After that, the team of four went to the caller’s apartment together with police officers to carry out their duties.
Before leaving, Haziq took a photo of the deceased’s body that was still hanging, while Nurrizah shone a torchlight on the body to enable him to take the photo. Haziq then sent the photo to the same WhatsApp group of 19 Unistrong employees, court documents said.
Nurrizah forwarded that photo to her boyfriend Fazli Hisham Mohd Fairuz Shah, who sent it to another WhatsApp chat group. One of his friends in that chat group forwarded the photos to three other domestic workers here, and one of them posted the images on Facebook.
After learning that the photos were circulating on social media, the deceased’s agent informed the deceased’s employer, who made a police report.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Selene Yap told the court on Monday that Haziq had obtained the photo in the course of his duty, despite being aware of confidentiality clauses in his employment contract.
In his sentencing remarks, District Judge Marvin Bay called Haziq’s act of posting the photo on WhatsApp “deeply disturbing”. – TODAY Online
Filipino soldiers stand guard on a street in Manila, Philippines, on August 1.