By Francis Wakefield
Government forces thwarted plans by the Abu Sayyaf under top leader Furuji Indama from bombing Zamboanga City following the arrest of two of their members over the weekend.
Combined forces of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga and the Zamboanga City Police Office launched a counteraction against the group of Abu Sayyaf member Omar Askali, alias “Ayub,” at Governor Lim Avenue, Zamboanga City, at around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, which led to his arrest.
Army Colonel Leonel Nicolas, commander of the JTF Zamboanga, said intelligence reports revealed that Askali’s group was planning to bomb public places in the city three days from Saturday. He said this prompted troops to conduct a joint operation with the police to capture the bandits and preempt their bomb ploy.
Nicolas said seized from Askali were a hand grenade, a cellular phone, and two identification cards.
Askali is a trusted follower of Indama. He is trained in manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Further information disclosed that Mukaram Sapie alias Mukram, and one Shayif were sent by Indama to conduct bombing.
In a follow-up operation, government forces also nabbed Mukram in Barangay Taluksangay..Recovered from Mukram was an IED and a caliber .45 pistol.
The area was still being searched for another IED since information from Askali revealed that Mukram was keeping two IEDs.
“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. I commend the troops of the JTF Zamboanga for a job well done,” said Lieutenant General Carlito G. Galvez Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
Follow-up operations are still ongoing to arrest other members of the group.