AFP: Suspects in Davao market bombing arrested
The suspected terrorists involved in the Davao night market bombing last month have been arrested last Tuesday.
The suspected terrorists were presented to the media on Friday afternoon by ranking defense and military officials, led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
The three suspects were identified as TJ Tagadaya Macabalang, Wendel Apostol Facturan and Musali Mustapha, members of the Maute Group. They were nabbed at checkpoint onboard a motorcycle last Oct. 4 in Cotabato City.
“We have recovered solid pieces of evidence showing that they are indeed the terrorists who bombed Davao City on Sept. 2,” Lorenzana said.
Improvised explosive devices, a sub-machine gun, a cal .45 pistol, their motorcycle and cellular phones were confiscated from the suspects.
Macabalang detonated the bomb that was planted by Facturan. Mustapha, meanwhile, took a video using mobile phone, the initial investigation showed.
Videos and photos from the incident were found on the mobile phones confiscated from the suspects. A 20-second clip showing Facturan and a photo showing a bomb manual were also recovered.
“These are indications that the Maute Group is trying to align themselves with the ISIS as seen in the recovered video. We have also established their link with the Abu Sayyaf as they revealed their intention to disrupt the government’s massive military operations in Sulu,” Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano said.
The plan to bomb the city was made about two weeks from the actual incident, Lorenzana said.
It was supposed to divert the government’s military operations in Sulu and Central Mindanao, and also in retaliation for the heavy casualties suffered by the terror group in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
“The operations in August 2016 also resulted to the capture of eight Maute members in a checkpoint on August 22. The arrested members later bolted out of prison on August 27,” Lorenzana said.
“There were more or less 10 members of the Maute Group that participated in the Davao City bombing,” he added.
It was also found out that there was an alternate plan to use hand grenades just in case the original bomb plot failed to explode.
In a related development, a raid was conducted on the residence of Teng Macabalang, the father of TJ Macabalang in Barangay (village) Rosary Height 6 in Cotabato City at 2 a.m. Friday.
“It resulted to the arrest of Macabalang and the recovery of numerous high-powered and short firearms, ammunition and IED,” Lorenzana said.
Combined military and police forces are conducting follow-up operations to pursue the remaining suspects at large and other members of the Maute Group.
The deadly blast last September 2 killed 15 people and injured 70 others.
Authorities have filed multiple charges against nine suspects—with one identified as a bomb-making expert with links to an international terror group. Their identities had been withheld.
The incident has also prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao.
A reward of P3 million has also been offered for the identification and arrest of those involved in the Davao bombing. CDG/RAM/rga
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