Philippines: Security Forces Kill Islamic State Suspect, Foil Bomb Plot

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga, Philippines
2020-11-05
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201105-PH-militant-620.JPG Evidence is gathered at the scene where a suspected Islamic State militant leader was killed in Esperanza, a town in the southern Philippine province of Sultan Kudarat, Nov. 4, 2020.
Handout Western Mindanao Command

Police and soldiers killed a suspected sub-leader of Islamic State’s Philippine branch and foiled a bomb plot during a joint counter-terrorist operation in southern Sultan Kudarat province, the military said Thursday.

Combined forces from the provincial police, the army’s 7th Infantry Battalion and 43rd Special Action Company moved in to arrest the suspect, Jazzer Nilong (alias Khalid Di Nilong), at an inn in the municipality of Esperanza on Wednesday, according to the military chief in the south.

“But he sensed the presence of troops conducting surveillance, dug in and engaged the officers in a gunbattle,” Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, head of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, told BenarNews. “He was killed in the brief firefight.”

Nilong’s death came a day after Philippine government forces killed seven suspected members of a pro-Islamic State (IS) militant group, Abu Sayyaf, in a high-seas shootout off the far southern Sulu Islands.

Nilong led a cell of the militant group Dawlah Islamiyah, which carried out a bombing in southern General Santos City that wounded eight in 2018, officials said.

Dawlah Islamiyah, which translates to Islamic State (IS), operates in the southern Philippines. Its members are known to work with militants belonging to the Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP), another militant group whose members are wanted for a string of attacks in the south.

After Wednesday’s gunbattle, police recovered an automatic handgun, a 60-mm unused mortar round, a rifle grenade, electric blasting caps, batteries and materials typically used by southern Philippine militants to make improvised bombs. Investigators also found documents indicating that Nilong was planning to carry out attacks in the south, Vinluan said.

The dead man’s brothers – Jeoffrey and Amen Nilong, who were identified as bomb makers – were killed in a military and police raid in the southern town of Isulan in September, he said.

Sea clash

On Tuesday, government forces killed seven Abu Sayyaf Group militants when a firefight broke out as they chased the suspects’ speedboat in waters off the Sulu archipelago, the military said.

The slain suspects included Mannul Sawadjaan (alias Abu Amara), believed to be the successor to his grandfather, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the overall IS leader in the country who, authorities have said, may have been killed in a previous encounter with troops.

The military has not officially confirmed the death of Hatib Sawadjaan, who took the reins of IS after Isnilon Hapilon was killed at the end of a five-month siege of the southern Marawi city by pro-IS militants in 2017.

On Thursday, armed forces chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay expressed confidence that the militants would soon be defeated.

“The efficient use of our assets brings about significant gains in our fight against enemies of the state,” Gapay said. “This proves that armed with high level weaponry and equipment, our skilled soldiers can render these terrorists defenseless.”

He said that since November 2019, 65 Abu Sayyaf members had been killed while 99 others had surrendered.

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