Troops foil bombing plot in Central Mindanao
COTABATO CITY – Security forces have foiled another alleged plot to bomb urban centers in Central Mindanao after they seized improvised bombs in a village in Maguindanao Saturday, an Army official said.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Army 33rd Infantry Battalion chief, said his unit led the counter-terror raid in Sitio Pagalad, Barangay Damakling in Paglat, following a tip about the presence of bombs and suspected terrorists in the area.
Cabunoc said their informant provided him photos showing terrorist bombers Ustadz Yasser Saligan and Sheik Makakena, alias “Abu Jihad,” handling a bomb. The suspects were under surveillance since late 2018, he added.
Combined troops of the 33rd IB, the 4th Special Action Battalion, the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and the provincial police raided the sitio, a known “terrorist lair,” at around 3 a.m., he said.
The raiding troops arrested five surprised enemies and recovered four improvised bombs and three .45 caliber (1911 model) pistols, Cabunoc said.
He said main targets Abu Jihad and Ustadz Yasser eluded arrest by jumping into the murky waters of the Liguasan Marsh upon sensing the arrival of the raiding troops.
Cabunoc believed the explosives with triggering devices were meant for urban terror use in nearby Sultan Kudarat where deadly bombings happened last year.
The raid was the latest of local success in foiling terror plots.
It followed the pre-dawn raid by a team of 12 military intelligence operatives in Barangay Tatak on the marshy border of Rajah Buayan and two other Maguindanao towns against local militants harboring foreign bomb-making experts.
Sources said the raiding team thought their targets were fewer, only to be surprised that more than 80 heavily armed men put up a five-hour fight that resulted to the killing of an Army sergeant and the wounding of a Marine captain leading the team.
Four of the enemies were killed, including two foreigners identified as Abu Hud Zain, a Singaporean, and Abdulrahid Ruhmisanti, an Indonesian.
The Marine captain, who was wounded in the chin and neck, and his men ran out of ammunition, and were left with just handguns to fight the enemies for five hours starting before dawn.
Higher officers have recommended the team for citations, with the wounded captain with the Medal of Valor.