Criminal raps filed vs 43 in Mindanao bombings
Criminal complaints have been filed against 43 people from two armed groups that pledged loyalty to the Islamic State (IS) jihadi group for two bomb attacks in Mindanao, including a suspected suicide bombing that killed 11 people, the Philippine National Police chief said on 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, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde told a news conference at Camp Crame.
A foreign militant who drove the bomb-laden van that exploded near a militia detachment died in the suspected suicide attack.
Among those facing charges is Furuji Indama, leader of the Abu Sayyaf faction that has pledged allegiance to IS.
Albayalde said Indama ordered the attack but remained at large together with nine other suspects. They are now the targets of manhunt operations.
Eight suspects, including an alleged bomb expert, Julamin Arundoh, who allegedly rigged the van with explosives placed in plastic water containers, have been captured.
Besides Arundoh, those under police custody were:
• Ammar Indama, alias Ammar Matahul Mohammed, who allegedly helped prepare the bomb
• Saad Teddie, alias Boga Teddie or Abu Tedie, who allegedly helped plan the attack, assisted in assembling the bomb, and escorted the van
• Musa Mandio Jallaha, the alleged middleman who bought the van and helped in loading the bomb on the vehicle
• Hadji Hurang, alias Nura Narimin
• Nsir Kusain Nuruddin, alias Battuh Murah
• Al Bashir Santos Ahmad
• Abdurahim Lijal, alias Mike Lija or Mike Usman or Abu Fattie, who allegedly assisted in the preparation of the bomb and the rigging of the van with it, and escorted the vehicle up to a few kilometers of the checkpoint
Police filed the murder complaints against the 18 men in Branch 2 of the Isabela City Regional Trial Court.
Target: public gathering
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said the foreign militant who drove the van targeted a public gathering of about 3,000 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 water containers in the van.
As Army troops approached, the van blew up, killing the militant and 10 other people outside the militia detachment and wounding several villagers.
IS claimed responsibility for the Lamitan bombing and identified the attacker as a Moroccan. But the group cited a greatly inflated military death toll.
Police have also filed criminal complaints against 25 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who were blamed for an Aug. 28 bombing that left three people dead and 36 others wounded as Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat province celebrated its founding anniversary.
Five days after the blast, another deadly bombing hit Isulan, prompting Albayalde to sack the town and provincial police chiefs and further strengthen already tight security in the volatile region.
The PNP chief said there were “indications” the bombing was perpetrated by the BIFF faction led by Abu Turaife.
Turaife’s group has pledged loyalty to IS, which claimed responsibility for the blast.
Albayalde said, however, that the IS claim “had not yet been confirmed by our intelligence community.” —With a report from AP
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