New WestMinCom chief vows to end ASG terror reign in Sulu this year

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AWANG, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 2 July) – “They started it, we will finish it.”

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana (right) during the parade before turnover of command of the 6th Infantry Division to Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon on Monday (1 July 2019). MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

With these words, the visibly angry newly installed Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, vowed to get back at the terrorist group and let them pay the lawlessness they had just done to his subordinates and to the civilians of Indanan in Sulu.

During his speech as he handed over his responsibility as commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Maguindanao to Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, Sobejana vowed to give justice to his fallen soldiers and to let the perpetrators of the twin bomb attacks in an Army base in Indanan suffer the same fate.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for WestMinCom, said the military in Sulu has been on heightened alert since the January 27 Jolo Cathedral bombings that left more than 20 dead and a hundred injured.

Friday last week, eight people were killed – including three soldiers and the two suspected bombers – in twin explosions near a military camp in Indanan.

“They were suicide bombers, and they appeared to be young Moroccans or any Asian-looking individuals,” Encinas said of the suspects.

He said initial investigation showed that a man carrying something suspicious appeared near the military base outpost.

Upon sensing threat, the sentry chief ordered his men to check on the suspicious item the man was carrying as he got closer to the sentry outpost.

“As the soldiers were checking on the man and what he was carrying, an explosion occurred,” Encinas said, adding that it was a “signal” for another man with powerful explosives with him to enter the gate that was opened after the first blast.

The first blast killed three soldiers.

Responding soldiers shot the second bomber but still he managed to set off the second and more powerful bomb that caused bigger damage to the camp.

Encinas said the suspects were believed to be Moroccans in their early 20s.

To confirm that, Encinas said, the WestMinCom is awaiting DNA test results to determine if the bombers outside the camp and those responsible for the Jolo Cathedral explosions were related, including the type of explosives used.

The Army is verifying reports that the slain suicide bombers in Indanan were children of the couple who set off bombs in the cathedral.

Sobejana vowed to “finish off” the Abu Sayyaf and foreign terrorists in Sulu by December this year in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s ultimatum of wiping out the ASG by 2020. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)

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