KIDAPAWAN CITY – Two suspected bomb makers eluded arrest during a raid conducted by authorities in their residence Tuesday afternoon in M’lang, North Cotabato.
Superintendent Bernard Tayong, spokesperson for the Cotabato Police Provincial Office (CPPO), said brothers Anwar and Guiamadel Sandingan were no longer in their house when combined operatives of the police and the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade under Col. Manolo Samatita conducted their search operation.
Authorities however were able to arrest Jokrie Andong Buisan who was in the house and was seen holding a fragmentation grenade during the raid were several materials believed to be used in making bombs were discovered.
Tayong said the raid led to the confiscation of components for making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) such as blasting caps, detonating cords, mobile phones, 9-volt batteries, soldering guns, test lights, circuit board and tester, electrical wires, and a fragmentation grenade.
Intelligence reports gathered by authorities reveal that the residence of the Sandingan brothers may have been serving as a training site for terrorists as several Arab-looking men were said to be frequenting the place.
“We can’t conduct the raid during night time because we don’t have enough knowledge of the terrain. The site is near the Liguasan marsh, a usual exit route of the criminals,” said Tayong.
Meantime, Buisan, who is said to be one of the security aides of the suspects and is believed to be identified with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) operating in North Cotabato, will remain in the custody of the M’lang municipal police station while cases of illegal possession of explosives and firearms are being prepared against him.
In Patikul town, Sulu, two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed as the intensified operation of the military remains steadfast.
This brings to 32 the total number of ASG killed in series of firefights between soldiers and the bandits the last few weeks.
Reports gathered from civilians in the vicinity confirmed two ASG fighters being carried by their companions for burial while several others were wounded as they move away from the half hour firefight. There were no casualties on the government side.
The ASG were reportedly led by Jamiri Jaong Jawhari and Basaron Arok, two known subleaders of the bandit group.
Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Commander of Joint Task Force Sulu said there will be no let up in the effort to rescue the remaining hostages.
“Our priority is the safe rescue of the victims and protection of local communities in Sulu against terrorists and criminal elements,” Dela Vega said.
Dela Vega added that “local folks are gradually helping in protecting their own communities against the ASG scourge and showing defiance against the bandits.” (With a report from Francis T. Wakefield) (MALU CADELINA MANAR)