AFP hunts down Abu Sayyaf leader, other suspects in Jolo twin blasts

Robie de Guzman   •   August 25, 2020   •   940

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities are now pursuing the persons behind the twin bombings that rocked the Jolo town in the province of Sulu on Monday.

Major General Corleto Vinluan Jr., the newly-installed chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the explosions were perpetrated by Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Mundi Sawadjaan with the help of a still unidentified female suicide bomber.

Vinluan said Sawadjaan and his group were the ones behind the bombing of Jolo Cathedral in January 2019 which killed 23 people and injured 109 others.

The military have been tracking Sawadjaan and his group since May and he was also the target of pursuing four Army Intelligence officers before they were shot dead on June 29 by Jolo police officers, according to the military official.

Vinluan said they received information about the group’s plan to launch an attack but they lost track of Sawadjaan when the four soldiers were killed.

Had Sawadjaan and the suicide bombers been captured, Monday’s twin bombings probably would have been avoided, he said.

“Actually yun ‘yung sinusundan namin nung, kaya nga may namatay na apat na sundalo nu’n di ba, ang target nila ‘yung suicide bombers plus si Mundi Sawadjaan. ‘Yun ang target natin nu’n na hindi naituloy dahil nga sa nangyari,” he said.

But Brigadier General Manuel Abu, director of Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, maintained that the shooting incident could have been avoided if the soldiers coordinated their moves with the local police.

Abu also said they would have also helped in the operation if the slain military men informed the local police.

“Walang coordination din eh, kung sila ba naman ‘yung mga napatay ay, nirespeto nila ‘yung mga naka-uniporme at hindi nila parang tinarayan, ay di baka hindi natuloy pati itong bombing, nagkatulungan pa ang PNP at AFP, di ba?” he said.

Monday’s twin blasts at Barangay Walled City in Jolo killed 14 people – seven soldiers, one policeman and six civilians – and injured 75 others.

The first explosion occurred just before noon beside Paradise Food Shop while the second blast transpired an hour later about 100 meters away from the first blast site.

Authorities said the first explosive device could have been planted on a motorcycle they found parked near the KM450 military truck. The second explosion was a suicide bomb carried by an unidentified female.

The municipality has been placed under total lockdown until the probe into the incident is completed. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Local police on full alert after death of ASG sub-leader, cohorts

Marje Pelayo   •   June 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief P/Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Monday (June 14) placed concerned police offices and units on full alert.

This is in response to the operation against Abu Sayyaf Group members in Jolo, Sulu that led into an encounter and neutralization of four of its members.

Among those killed were Mundi Sawadjaan’s brother, Al-Al Sawadjaan; ASG sub-leader Injam Yadah; an ASG member identified as Raup; and another unidentified ASG member.

“I am tasking the local police to go on full alert dahil ine-expect din po natin na posibleng gumanti ang mga natitirang miyembro lalo’t kapatid ni Mundi Sawadjaan ang isa sa mga napatay sa engkwentro,” PGen Eleazar said.

“Sinisiguro ko po sa publiko na hindi po namin hahayaang makapaghasik ng kaguluhan ang grupong ito,” added the PNP chief.

PGen Eleazar assured that the police and military will further intensify joint operations to capture Mundi and the remaining bandits.

“We are doubling our efforts to capture Mundi and his men. We will intensify our coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as our intelligence gathering efforts to combat this group and stop their attacks on innocent civilians,” said PGen Eleazar.

He also urged the public to remain vigilant and immediately report to authorities if they have information that can help locate the bandits.

State security forces were about to serve a warrant of arrest against Yadah when the Abu Sayyaf terrorists fired at them, prompting the police and the military to retaliate.

Authorities said Yadah was involved in kidnapping incidents while Sawadjaan had knowledge on bomb-making. His brother, Mundi, was the alleged mastermind of the twin blasts in Jolo last year.

ASG sub-leader, 3 members killed in Sulu – AFP

Marje Pelayo   •   June 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) of the Armed Forces of of the Philippines (AFP) reported the death of a notorious Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader and three of his followers in a law enforcement operation in Sulu.

“Based on the report from the ground, combined elements of the military and police conducted a law enforcement operation to serve a warrant of arrest against ASG sub-group leader Injam Yadah in Barangay Alat, Jolo, Sulu around 2:00AM Sunday, June 13, 2021,” the WESMINCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said.

Sensing the presence of the operating troops, the target and three of his cohorts opened fire thereby prompting the government forces to retaliate. The exchange of fires resulted in the instantaneous death of Yadah and three others.

“We’ve long been on the hunt for Yadah. He has a reputation of being extremely violent — beheading captured innocent civilians and security forces alike. Finally, his hideous acts will now come to a full stop,” said Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.

Two of the neutralized cohorts of Yadah were identified as Al-Al Sawadjaan, the youngest brother of infamous bomber Mundi Sawadjaan, and a.k.a. Rauf/Raup while the other one is yet to be identified.

According to 35th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Wilfredo Borgonia, Yadah was involved in the kidnapping of various foreign nationals and locals including the ex-wife and daughter of former Talipao Mayor Tambrin Tulawie in 2018.

His latest reported activity was the kidnapping of Rex Triplett in Sirawai, Zamboanga Sibugay and Dr. Moreno in Jolo in 2020.

He was also involved in the abduction of the recently rescued Indonesian nationals.

Lt. Col. Borgonia further stated that Mundi’s brother Al-Al Sawadjaan was a volunteer suicide bomber and improvised explosive device maker.

Operating troops seized in the house of Yadah one M653 Carbine, one cal. 45 pistol, IED components, and 15 mobile phones. Troops also captured Yadah’s wife identified as a.k.a. Jhing and rescued their three children.

“All the forces under JTF-Sulu are doubling their efforts to apprehend Mundi Sawadjaan. His brothers are now dead and we are optimistic that he will also be neutralized. When that day comes, we can say that we have achieved total peace in the province. The local government and people here are one with us in this endeavor,” Maj. Gen. Gonzales added.

Since January 2021, a total of 121 ASG personalities have been neutralized in Sulu. Among the 121 members, 18 were killed, 86 surrendered, and 17 were apprehended.

AFP, UN sign strategic plan to protect children in armed conflict

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United Nations (UN) have signed a strategic plan to protect children in armed conflict.

In a statement on Thursday (June 10), AFP Chief  Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the AFP shall ensure to maintain professionalism and discipline in conducting daily operations. He also said the AFP will aim to strengthen the protection of children in armed conflict and prevent grave child rights violations.

“We shall guarantee that all our personnel are properly educated and trained, to raise their awareness, and for a deeper sense of respect and regard to the promotion and protection of Human Rights in particular, to children’s rights, and adherence to International Humanitarian Law,” he said.

Under the “Strategic Plan to Prevent and Respond to Grave Child Rights Violations in Situations of Armed Conflict”, the AFP should fully comply with its obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The Strategic Plan was signed by Sobejana along with UN resident coordinator and co-chair of UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (UN-CTFMR) Gustavo Gonzales, and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative to the Philippines Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov on Wednesday (June 9). AAC

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