Jolo, Sulu on lockdown after twin blasts

Marje Pelayo   •   January 28, 2019   •   3853

Blast site in Jolo, Sulu| Photo courtesy of AFP WestMinCom

SULU, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) cannot yet determine the kind of bomb used in the deadly blast in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday (January 27) that killed around 20 individuals.

PNP Chief DG Oscar Albayalde said investigation and collection of bomb fragments are still ongoing to identify the signature of the perpetrators through the type of explosive that was used.

“Sa ngayon wala pang masabi kung ano klaseng bomba dahil walang marecover na residue although may mga nakuha silang parts na cellphone,” Albayalde said.

The PNP Chief also ordered full-alert status of the entire police force in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the National Capital Region (NCR).

The entire municipality of Jolo has been placed on lockdown and checkpoints were enforced in different areas of the town.

Albayalde said Mt. Carmel Cathedral has been a target of attacks in the past where priests and helpers were harmed and killed.

“Nagmimisa halos nasa second reading pa lang daw nung pumutok itong IED. Halos puno dahil iyon ang madalas na pinupuntahan ng mga tao. Second mass, sa thinking ng pari, mga nasa 100 (persons) ang nasa loob,” Albayalde said of the attendees of the doomed Sunday mass in Jolo.

Currently, a battalion of PNP Special Action Force (SAF) has been stationed in the area for security.

Albayalde said it was not the first time that a house of worship has been attacked in the town.

In 2011, a bomb was placed and blasted off the altar of a Catholic chapel leaving several people dead.  – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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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.

1 dead, 3 hurt in military clash with Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member was killed while three soldiers were injured in a gunfight in Sulu, the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) said Friday.

In a statement, the AFP-WestMincom said the encounter between the ASG and the operating forces of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu occurred early morning Friday in Barangay Kagay, Indanan.

The bandits fled the scene after the firefight that lasted for five minutes.

JTF Sulu commander Major General William Gonzales identified the slain ASG member as Arab Undo, one of the remaining followers of the slain ASG senior leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Authorities recovered from the clash site one cal. 45 pistol, one backpack, a solar panel, personal belongings, and food items.

Meanwhile, the three soldiers who were wounded in the encounter were brought to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital for medical attention. They are now in stable condition.

“Pursuit and blockade are being conducted by the Joint Task Force Sulu to thwart the extrication of the local terrorists group,” Gonzales said.

“This is another one blow to the ASG and we hope we could be able to neutralize the remaining members of the terrorist group the soonest,” he added.

Terror threats in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi declined in past 2 years – WestMinCom

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The number of terrorist threats observed in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao have significantly dropped in the last two years, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said.

Data from the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu showed that from July 1, 2020 to May 2, 2021, the force had 38 encounters with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and has neutralized 260 of its members; 34 of which were killed, 42 apprehended, and 184 surrendered.

In the first quarter of 2021, JTF Sulu said ASG now only have 132 of its manpower compared to its 282 and 145 members in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The military also observed a significant decrease in ASG’s firearms this year with only 147 left when it used to possess 330 weapons in 2019 and 155 in 2020.

The JTF Sulu further said that there was also no recorded terrorist acts perpetrated by the local group this year, noting that their last attack was the two explosions in Brgy. Walled City in Jolo, Sulu on August 24 last year.

According to JTF Sulu, it is its mission to conduct military operation to defeat ASG, and support the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in order to “significantly contribute to the peace, security, and development efforts of the Government in Sulu province.”

“Military action is only a small factor in combatting terrorism, the major factor here is the assistance (from the Bangsamoro Government),” Vinluan was quoted as saying in a statement released by the Bangsamoro government.

“We need your help to finally end the conflict in Sulu,” he added.

For his part, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ebrahim said the interim Bangsamoro Government has been put to place to assure that the people gets its well-deserved peace and sustainable development after years of conflict and unrest.

“When we signed the peace agreement with the national government, we knew that this transition period would not be an easy track. We also acknowledge that there are still splinter groups and extremist organizations that would provide challenges in the process,” Ebrahim said.

“We are fortunate that in this journey, we have our dear partners from the security sector to help us out in maintaining order. Troops whom we once faced at the other side of the fence – now working with us, side by side, one in building a Bangsamoro that we can be proud of,” he added.

Vinluan and the JTF Sulu commanders paid courtesy visit to Ebrahim and other BARMM officials on Monday, May 3, at the Bangsamoro Government Center in Cotabato City.

The visit was particularly aimed at providing the BARMM government an update regarding the security situation and development challenges in the province of Sulu, a stronghold of local terrorist ASG.

 

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