SEIZED. The recovered bombs and handguns from five mebers of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters on Saturday (Jan. 12) in Paglat, Maguindanao. (Photo by 33rd IB)
PAGLAT, Maguindanao -- Acting on an informant’s report about plots by an Islamic State-linked group to carry out bombings in Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato, the Army and police forces raided on Saturday dawn a safe house that also resulted to the surrender of five local terrorists.
State forces also seized powerful improvised explosive devices and four handguns.
“What is important is we prevented bloody bombings these terrorists are planning to carry out,” Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB) said.
The “lightning attack” counter-terrorist operation was launched at 3 a.m. Saturday in Barangay Palagad here.
He said the operation was quickly launched after an “asset” showed photos of bomb makers Ustadz Yasser Saligan and his cohort, Sheik Makakena alias Abu Jihad, trying to test the destructiveness of a homemade bomb.
Under the cover of darkness, government forces swooped down on the pinpointed terrorist lair.
Five gunmen were caught sleeping and were surprised to see soldiers and police surrounding them right inside their homes.
“We successfully got inside the house without anyone of them knowing,” Cabunoc said.
“However, the subject bombers managed to elude arrest by jumping into the murky waters from separate shanty nearby,” he added.
Seized from the suspects were four improvised bombs and three .45-caliber pistols.
Four hours later, relatives of a BIFF leader informed Cabunoc about the former’s group’s desire to surrender peacefully for fear that they might be subjected to Army offensives.
“They belonged to the BIFF faction led by Commander Mayogantong Bansil,” Cabunoc said.
Bansil and his men surrendered four high-powered firearms including a .50-caliber sniper rifle, two M1 Garand rifles, and a 40mm M79 grenade launcher.
The surrendered weapons were presented to Brig. Gen. Robert Dauz, commander of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the unit that has operational control over the 33rd IB.
“You have shown the expertise in handling the security threats without incurring casualties. Share these best practices in the conduct of operations to all Army units in Central Mindanao,” said Dauz, who earned his first star rank last week.
Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the "BIFF’s world is getting smaller every day.”
“The public is now helping us, this is very encouraging and discouraging on the part of the terrorists,” Sobejana said.