Philippine Troops Kill 4 Blamed for Fatal Bus Bombing

Jeoffrey Maitem
Cotabato, Philippines
Philippine Troops Kill 4 Blamed for Fatal Bus Bombing A soldier stands guard in the Southern Philippine city of Marawi, May 23, 2021.

Troops killed the alleged leader of an Islamic State-linked militant cell and three others blamed for a bus bombing that killed a 5-year-old boy earlier this week, during a gunfight in the southern Philippines on Saturday, the military said. 

The soldiers shot and killed Norodin Hassan and his men near the town of Carmen in Cotabato province, said Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

The military identified Hassan (also known as Andot) as the leader of military affairs for the Daulah Islamiyah-Hassan Group. Daulah Islamiyah is the Filipino name for the Islamic State.

“The death of alias Andot and three of his cohorts only shows that justice is given to the victims of the Mindanao Star Bus bombing,” Uy said in a statement.

The military identified two of the other three killed as Abdonillah Hassan and Abdonhack Hassan. Officials did not say if the militants were related or if any soldiers were injured in the gunfight.

Soldiers recovered high-caliber automatic rifles, mobile phones, radios and “subversive documents with high intelligence value,” the military said.

The Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade commander said troops had received a tip about the militants.

“After we identified the perpetrators who were responsible for the bombing attack, we immediately launched the manhunt operation to prevent them from doing similar atrocities in other areas, thus preventing further loss of lives and damage to properties,” Col. Jovencio Gonzales said in a statement.

The bus had been traveling from the southern city of Davao, President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, along the highway near Aleosan town where the blast occurred early Tuesday, killing the boy and injuring six others, including the boy’s father and two younger siblings.

Several IS-linked militants have been killed since late 2021, including Salahuddin Hassan, identified as a top lieutenant in the southern Mindanao region under Philippine leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan. Military intelligence officials have said they believe Sawadjaan was killed in a clash in 2020 although his body was not recovered.

“Our continuous effort to go after these terrorist groups has been unyielding. There will be no let-up and slowing down against these terrorists who continue to attack civilian populace, properties and communities,” Uy said. 

Mark Navales in Cotabato, Philippines, contributed to this report.


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