Suspect in 2019 Jolo cathedral bombing nabbed in Zamboanga City
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Police have arrested a suspected suicide bomber of the Mount Carmel Cathedral blast in Jolo town, Sulu, who killed more than 20 civilians and uniformed personnel and wounded close to a hundred people on January 27, 2019.
Colonel Rexmel Reyes, director of the Zamboanga City Police Office, said Kalmi Ammad Mustala, 42, of Panamao town, was arrested Tuesday in a manhunt operation in Sinunuc village in this city.
Reyes said Mustala had been hiding here for quite some time until Tuesday’s joint police and military operation dubbed as “Manhunt Charlie.”
Mustala had been reported to have worked with Sanibar Bensio, one of the notorious subleaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu. Reyes also identified him as a follower of Hairulla Abduraja, another Abu Sayyaf subleader.
“He is an expert in bomb-making and has been involved in the twin bombing of the Jolo cathedral,” Reyes added, referring to the Mount Carmel Cathedral, which was bombed while a holy mass was going on. “He is also involved in the series of kidnappings of foreign and local individuals,” Reyes said.
Among his victims were reportedly the Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra, the Dutch Ewold Horn, Indonesian nationals Samion Bin Maneu, Maharudin Bin Lunani, Mohammad Farhan, and Filipino Ronnie Terung, Joshua Baning, and Michelle Panes.
“Mustala, who has been avoiding arrest in the past years, is now behind bars after the Zamboanga City police stepped up its series of manhunt Charlie operations across the city,” Reyes said.
The Sulu Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 3 issued the arrest warrant against Kalmi on June 19 this year. He is facing raps for illegal possession of explosives used in the commission of double-frustrated murder, double attempted murder. The court recommended no bail bond for the charges.
Mustala is renting a house at Vanex Drive, Barangay Recodo, but was arrested at Caragasan Beach Resort in Barangay Sinunuc, about 5.4 kilometers away.
Reyes credited the successful arrest to the mobile police force, the Philippine Marines, and the intelligence units of the Philippine Army, Marines, and the city police.
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