The military yesterday said that a possible terror attack on a populated area has been foiled following the arrest of eight people, including five suspected members of the local terrorist group Maute terror group in Lanao del Sur on Monday afternoon.
Army Major Filemon I. Tan, Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WesMinCom), based in Zamboanga City, identified the alleged terrorists as Hashim Balawag Maute, alias “Apple” or “Jehad”; Abdul Jabbar Tominaman Macabading, Jamil Batoa Amerul, Muhammad Sianodin Mulok, and Omar Khalil.
Tan said the five are wanted by police and military authorities for their involvement in various terrorist activities in Lanao del Sur.
Tan said three others, all women and accomplices of the five men, were identified as Hafidah Romato Maute and Norhanna Balawag Maute, daughters of Engr. Cayamora and Ominta Maute, and Nasifa Pundug, the alleged wife of a local terrorist leader based in Kapai, Lanao del Sur.
Tan said the suspects were caught at about 5:10 p.m. Monday.
Acting upon intelligence reports on the movement of the Local Terrorist Group (LTG), troops of the Army’s 51st Infantry Battalion and1st Infantry Division, intercepted a van boarded by Balawag in Barangay Nanagun, Lumbayanague, Lanao del Sur.
Tan said troops and local police also discovered several Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and war materials inside the van which would be used in a heavily populated area.
“The male passengers falsely gave their identities but further investigation revealed that their true names were Hashim Balawag Maute of the terrorist Maute group brothers,” Tan said.
“The other passengers Abdul Jabbar Tominaman Macabading, Jamil Batoa Amerul, Muhammad Sianodin Mulok and Omar Khalil were later identified as Local Terror Group involved in various terrorist activities in Lanao del Sur.”
The military and police also seized from the suspects two hand grenades and two Caliber .45 pistol with five rounds of live ammunition, an 81mm Mortar ammunition rigged as an Improvised Explosive, two pipe bombs IED with components, several IED components and several electronic devices as triggering devices.
The suspects and recovered materials were turned over to the Lumbayanague Municipal Police Station for the filing of appropriate charges. (FRANCIS WAKEFIELD)