Abu Sayyaf sub-leader behind Jolo bombing dead in Sulu clash
ZAMBOANGA CITY, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR –– A trusted sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) under Radulan Sahiron was killed in a 50-minute encounter with government troops in Barangay Maligay, Patikul town of Sulu around 9 a.m., on Monday, September 28.
The military identified the body left at the clash site as that of Arsibar Sawadjaan, the right-hand man of Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron and cousin of ASG bomb maker Mundi Sawadjaan, according to Lieutenant Colonel Rolando Mateo, spokesperson of the Joint Task Force Sulu.
He said the 45th Infantry Battalion led by its commanding officer Lt. Col. Ruben Guinolbay was operating in the interior area of Maligay when they encountered about 40 armed men under the group of Sahiron.
Arsibar and his cousin Mundi were tagged as masterminds in the twin explosions in Jolo town on August 24, which killed 17 people, including two female suicide bombers, and wounded over 70 people.
The Sulu encounter came a day after a suspected bomber of the ASG, reported to be behind two major explosions in Basilan and Sulu, was arrested in his house along the western coast of this city on Sunday, September 27.
Lt. General Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command, said members of the 82nd special action company of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force arrested the suspected bomber identified as Hajili Banah, also known as Hashim Saripada in his house in Barangay Recodo, some 15 kilometers from the town center here.
Saripada was arrested under the two warrants of arrest issued by Judge Danilo M. Bucoy of the 9th Regional Trial Court Branch 2 in Isabela City, Basilan.
Vinluan identified Saripada as a member of the ASG under Hajan Sawadjaan since 2002, serving as financial and personnel facilitator for members that included foreign terrorist fighters in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, and Sulu.”
He said Saripada served as the planner and supervisor of the operation to blow up a nearby camp in Lamitan, Basilan in 2018, and the Jolo cathedral bombing in 2019, executed by three foreign suicide bombers.
“His most notorious involvement included the July 31, 2018 vehicle-borne improvised explosive device suicide bombing in Barangay Colonia, Lamitan City in Basilan that killed 11 soldiers and civilians and the January 27 Mount Carmel Cathedral bombing in Jolo, Sulu last year that left 22 people killed and more than a hundred wounded,” Vinluan said.
“The arrest of Saripada will greatly debilitate the group particularly in the planning and execution of their bomb ploys,” Vinluan said.
Recovered from the suspect were a gallon of ammonium nitrate with fuel oil, nine pieces blasting caps, five meters detonating cord, a fragmentation grenade, and a backpack.
Saripada is now under the custody of RIU9 for documentation before he is turned over to the court in Isabela City, Basilan.
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