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Philippines: Swedish Man, 6 Other Suspected Militants Charged with Murder

Jeoffrey Maitem and Joseph Jubelag
Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, Philippines
2019-10-04
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Philippine soldiers escort a hearse during the funeral procession for a victim of the January church bombing in Jolo on the southern island of Mindanao, Jan. 31, 2019.
Philippine soldiers escort a hearse during the funeral procession for a victim of the January church bombing in Jolo on the southern island of Mindanao, Jan. 31, 2019.
AFP

Philippine security forces filed attempted murder charges against seven suspects including a Swedish national allegedly allied with Islamic State extremists on southern Mindanao island, in connection with bomb attacks in the region, police said Friday.

Brig. Gen. Alfred Corpus, regional police commander, said charges of frustrated murder and attempted murder were filed Thursday against the suspects. The charges are tied to bomb attacks in the south, including one last month that wounded eight people at a public market in Isulan, a town in Sultan Kudarat region, he said. Frustrated murder means a suspect intended and attempted to kill someone who survived.

Among those included in the charge sheet were Swedish national Hassan Akgun and four others captured during a raid in General Santos, another city in the Philippine south.

“They were charged properly,” Corpus said, adding two suspects remain at large.

“I am calling out to the public, should you have any information with regard to these suspects, to please do not hesitate to report to local authorities,” he said.

The announcement occurred as police reported the capture of an alleged sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf militant group in Quezon City, a northern Manila suburb.

Local police commander Col. Ronnie Montejo said Ibrahim Lambog Mullo, 26, was arrested in the village of Batasan Hills last week. Police recovered an unlicensed pistol and a bag containing a fragmentation grenade.

Montejo said Mullo, who was recruited in 2017 by Abu Sayyaf while in Zamboanga City, was operating in Patikul, an Abu Sayyaf territory in southern Sulu province.

Founded in the early 1990s, Abu Sayyaf is notorious for carrying out kidnappings, bombings and beheadings in the southern Philippines over the past decade. The United States has blacklisted the group as a foreign terrorist organization.

One of its commanders, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, has been designated as the Islamic State (IS) leader in the country and is alleged to have masterminded two deadly bombings in the southern island of Jolo since January.

In addition, dozens of foreign militants are believed to be on the run in the southern island of Mindanao two years after they seized the southern island of Marawi. A five-month battle that saw government troops reclaim control of the city left 1,200 militants, soldiers and civilians dead.

Some militants, including foreigners, escaped and have been trying to replenish their ranks to launch more attacks. So far, they have not been able to succeed, largely because the south remains under tight military control, officials have said.

Police have said they believe Agkun was working with a group linked to IS, but it is too early to say whether he had any links with Sawadjaan.

Akgun “has been giving military officials limited information about a series of attacks in the south,” regional military spokesman army Col. Arvin Encinas said on Sept. 24, the day after the Swede’s arrest.

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