GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/ 24 Sept) – Police operatives captured an alleged base of an Islamic State-inspired local terror group and recovered improvised explosives in an operation on Sunday in a remote village in Polomolok town in South Cotabato.
Chief Supt. Eliseo Rasco, regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12, said elements from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion-12 overran the abandoned encampment at a portion of Sitio Malyango, Barangay Lapu in Polomolok at around 4 a.m.
He said the operating team, which was led by Supt. Barney Condes, proceeded to the site at around 4 a.m. to serve a warrant of arrest against suspect Joefry Tuanadatu Nilong alias Imoy, who was wanted for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
The operatives failed to catch up with the suspect and his alleged cohorts but instead discovered an encampment in the area, he said.
“They were able to escape and evade arrest before the team reached the site,” the police official said Monday.
Rasco said the team recovered at the encampment two suspected improvised explosive devices, a kilogram of black powder, electrical wires, a blasting cap, cellphones and two tee-shirts printed with symbols of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He said hot pursuit operations are ongoing against Nilong and his cohorts in coordination with the military and other law enforcement units.
Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, PRO-12 public information officer, said the armed group was linked to terror group Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP), which had pledged support to the ISIS.
AKP, which originated in Sarangani Province, was reportedly a part of the local network of the Maute Group.
The group supposedly merged with the armed elements based in Polomolok after its leader, Tokboy Maguid, was killed in an encounter with joint operatives in Kiamba, Sarangani in January last year.
Last week, operatives arrested an alleged member of the Polomolok-based group, who was later tagged as the primary suspect in the bomb attack here last Sept. 16 that left eight people wounded.
Suspect Jeffrey Panag Alonzo, 39, was nabbed on Sept. 19 in a drug buy-bust operation in Barangay Lapu, Polomolok town.
Rasco said the suspect was positively identified by witnesses as the same person who planted the bomb that went off before noon near the Bonita Lying-in Clinic in Makar junction, Purok Malipayon in Barangay Apopong. (MindaNews)