SUSPECT CONFESSES TO DAVAO BOMBINGZamboanga City, April 10, 2003 --- The Philippine military has tagged the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as behind the two deadly bomb attacks on a seaport and an international airport in the southern port city of Davao. Police earlier said the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiya was behind the attacks in Sasa wharf Apr. 2 that killed 17 people and the airport bombing Mar. 4 that left 22 people dead. Dozens were injured in the two attacks, also blamed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the al Qaeda network. "As far as we are concerned, the MILF is behind is behind the attacks," said the spokesman of military forces in the southern Philippines Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero. Lucero said five MILF members linked to the two attacks have been captured Tuesday by security forces in separates raids in Cotabato City in Maguindanao province, a traditional stronghold of Muslim rebels fighting for independence in the southern Philippines. Radio reports on Tuesday have quoted President Gloria Arroyo and new Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Narciso Abaya as saying that two Indonesian terror suspects were also captured in Cotabato City, but they turned out to be Filipinos. Lucero said the five captured MILF rebels -- Ismael Akmad alias Tutuh; Tobi Bagundang alias Tohami Urong and Jobi Bagundang Fermin; Ismael Osok alias Esmael Usop Mamalamas; Teng Quidar alias Teng Edar and Jimmy Baloghog alias Jimi Balolao -- are currently undergoing investigation. He said all suspects are alleged members of the MILF's special operations group, a unit that specialized in terrorism. He gave no details about the interrogation. But military sources in Cotabato City said Akmad, 26, admitted detonating the bomb he planted outside the terminal building of the Davao City International Airport and that his group was also behind the attack in Sasa wharf. He said they hired a taxi to bring the explosive to the airport after transporting the bomb by bus from Pikit town in North Cotabato province to Davao City. Akmad, a native of Kabuntalan town in Maguindanao, has claimed he is a member of the MILF's special operations group under the Bangamoro Islamic Armed Forces' 104th Brigade headed by Taps Juhani. Juhani's group operates in the cities of Davao, General Santos, Cotabato and the provinces of South and North Cotabato, and Maguindanao, sources said. Sources said two senior MILF rebel leaders in North Cotabato's Pikit town identified only as Commanders Bayan and Abiden have paid him P50,000 ($961) as reward for the airport attack. Akmad also named other members of his group who are still at large as Dennis Samana, Jimboy and Tong -- all MILF fighters. Akmad told interrogators that they had charted a van to transport the bomb, concealed in a black bag, they planted on a food stall outside the passenger terminal in Sasa wharf. After detonating the bomb, akmad said his group went back to Cotabato City, but Tong returned to his hideout in Bangkerohan district in Davao City. Akmad said he was given P 30,000 ($576) by the MILF for bombing the seaport, sources said. The MILF has strongly denied Wednesday government accusations its guerrillas were involved in the two attacks. A rebel spokesperson Eid Kabalu also said those five arrested were innocent civilians, but he was quick to say that Akmad and Bagundang are drug pushers operating in Cotabato City. Kabalu also denied that two Muslim men arrested Monday in General Santos City are MILF members. Police arrested the duo Altaps Samadalan and Mustapha Panagas in Fatima village after they had been caught illegally transporting more than 100 kilos of ammonium nitrate used in manufacturing bombs. The two arrested after police received intelligence reports saying MILF rebels would smuggle explosives into the predominantly Christian city from Pikit town in North Cotabato province to bomb civilian and government targets in the southern Philippines, the military said. The military said the two arrested rebels are members of the MILF's special operations group. The men said they would use the chemicals for blast fishing, but the police also seized from them 20 litres of gasoline and about a kilo of yellow chemical powder, believed to be explosives. Police and military are currently interrogating the rebels in General Santos City to find out if they have links with the group of Akmad. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte have tagged the MILF, the Jemaah Islamiya and the al Qaeda network as behind the seaport attack. He said the MILF's SUTAG or the Special Urban Terrorist Action Group is responsible in the blast. He said some of its members are from the Abu Sayyaf group.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
© Copyright, 2003
by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved
PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE