CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 24 Aug) – Army soldiers and policemen intercepted a van carrying explosives intended by the Maute terror group to be blown in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
Maj. Felimon Tan, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command, said the soldiers arrested eight people, including three women, who were riding a Tamaraw FX van in Barangay Nanagun, Lumbayanague, Lanao del Sur last Monday afternoon.
Tan said the troops found an improvised explosive device (IED) made of an 81-mm mortar attached to two other pipe bombs and triggering devices inside the Tamaraw vehicle.
The military identified those arrested as Hashim Balawag Maute, Abdul Jabbar Tominaman Macabading, Jamil Batoa Amerul, Muhammad Sianodin Mulok and Omar Khalil. The women passengers were also identified as Hafidah Romato Maute, Nasifa Pandug and Norhanna Balawag Maute.
Tan said the group was on its way to Marawi City from Butig town in Lanao del Sur when troops, acting on intelligence report, blocked them at the checkpoint in Barangay Nanagun.
“The fast reaction of troops and the information of concerned citizens were the key for thwarting a terror attack intended to kill innocent people in populated target areas. IEDs do not select its victims – children, Christians or Muslims, young and old – lahat papatayin niyan and in a wide scale kaya napakalaking bagay na hindi natuloy ito dahil na din sa cooperation ng taong bayan at responde ng sundalo at pulis,” Tan said in a statement.
Tan said they believed the suspects intended to target either the camp of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi City, or Iligan or Cagayan de Oro, which is celebrating its fiesta on August 28.
The Maute group composed of former rebels have pledged allegiance to the ISIS banner and is responsible for several attacks against Army detachments in Lanao del Sur.
The group beheaded in Butig town, Lanao del Sur in April 2016 two lumberyard workers, who they kidnapped and taken captives, when the ransom they demanded was not paid. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)