Police arrested two suspected Abu Sayyaf Group members and foiled an attempt to bomb the ongoing 2016 Zamboanga Hermosa Festival in Zamboanga City Friday.
Seized from the suspects, one of whom was involved in the Sipadan kidnapping 16 years ago, were one-pound trinitrotoluene and other bomb-making components.
Regional police director Chief Supt. Billy Beltran identified the suspects as 64-year-old Abdul-latip Talanghati, alias “Latip Sihata” and “Tatang,” and his son, Albashrie, alias “Abu Tarik” and “Tagalog,” both residents of Barangay Luuk, Banguingui (formerly Tongkil), Sulu.
Beltran said the suspects were arrested by the Regional Intelligence Division at about 9:30 p.m. Friday as they served an arrest warrant in Barangay Sta. Barbara.
Beltran said the Talanghatis have standing warrants of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention issued by a court in Pasig City.
Beltran said that the elder Talanghati has a P5.3-million cash reward for his arrest for his involvement in the kidnapping of 21 people – 10 Europeans, nine Malaysians, and two Filipinos – on April 23, 2000 at the Sipadan Diving Resort in Malaysia.
The hostages were herded to the deep forest of Sulu and were released in batches several months later in the same year.
Beltran disclosed that they have obtained vital information that the suspects were planning to disrupt the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival celebration before their arrest.
The highlight of the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival, which started October 1, is the feast day of Our Lady of the Pillar, the most revered saint of Zamboanga City, on October 12. (Aaron B. Recuenco and PNA)