Government forces on Wednesday arrested a suspected Abu Sayyaf militant in the southern Philippines whom authorities had linked to bomb attacks, the military said.
Troops also recovered explosives, blasting caps, and 30-caliber Browning Automatic Rifle when they arrested Isnaji Hasim, a known operative of Furuji Indama, the Abu Sayyaf commander on Basilan island, according to information gleaned from a military report.
Hasim was caught near the town of Naga, in Zamboanga Sibugay province, said Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, commander of the Joint Task Force ZamPeLan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao) and the 1st Army Division.
The suspect allegedly played a part in the bombing of a military checkpoint in Lamitan City, Basilan, on July 31, 2018, that killed 10 and injured 9 others.
The military said the bombing was carried out by a bomber from Germany of Moroccan descent.
According to Ancan, Hasim was also involved in the bus terminal bombing in Guiwan Village in Zamboanga City on Jan. 23, 2015, that killed 2 persons and injured more than 50 others.
Brig. Gen. Bagnus Gaerlan, who commands the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, expressed thanks to a civilian who gave information that led to Hasim’s arrest, according to the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA).
“This is evidence that even the locals denounce the presence of the terrorist group in their communities. The 102nd Infantry Brigade will continue to hunt down the remaining terrorists who are planning to conduct atrocities in the area,” PNA quoted him as saying.
The Abu Sayyaf is a small gang of militants blamed for some of the worst atrocities in the country, including bombings, kidnappings and random killings.
A faction of the group headed by Isnilon Hapilon pledged allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group and led a siege of southern Marawi city by militants two years ago. More than 1,200 soldiers, militants and civilians were killed in a five-month battle that ensued.
Hapilon was killed at the end of siege, but other militants were believed to have escaped and entrenched themselves into armed groups in the Philippine south and is believed to have been replaced by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, a little-known Abu Sayyaf leader on Jolo island, as the new head of the IS branch in the Philippines.