From the Gulf Today (Sep 26): Manila nabs rebel leader planning bomb attacks
A “rogue” Moro rebel leader tagged by the military as planning to launch bombing attacks in Central Mindanao, was arrested on Monday during a raid in his hideout in North Cotabato province.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Basana, an Army battalion chief, identified the suspect as Muslimin Ladtungan, more popularly known as “Commander Mus” of the Daesh-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Basana said Ladtungan surrendered when he found himself cornered by a team of soldiers and policemen sent to arrest him in a “barangay” (village) in the town of Midsayap, North Cotabato on Monday morning.
Basana credited villagers for the arrest of Ladtungan who reportedly planned a series of bombing attacks in North Cotabato and neighbouring Maguindanao to avenge the death of 27 BIFF members in a series of clashes with forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Confiscated from Ladtungan’s hideout were several improvised bombs as well as powerful weapons like a grenade launcher, rifles and pistols, according to Basana.
Based on intelligence information, Basana said Ladtungan planned to bomb crowded areas and other public places especially in Maguindanao where BIFF and MILF forces have engaged in a series of bloody encounters since Aug.2.
The clashes, he said, resulted from MILF’s participation in the government anti-terrorism campaign and to help maintain peace and order as part of its commitment when it signed a peace agreement with the government.
The military said the BIFF was founded by the late MILF veteran field commander Ameril Umbra Kato who broke away with about 1,200 of his armed followers due to major policy differences with front leaders over the conduct of their peace talks with the government.
Since then, the military said the BIFF has pledged allegiance to the Daesh extremists in the Middle East as it warned it would continue to oppose the MILF peace deal with the government.
Also linked to the Daesh are the Abu Sayyaf extremists and the Maute terror group named after two brothers – Omar and Abdullah Maute – that laid siege to Marawi City on May 23 and now on its fourth month.