2 suspected bombers slain in Maguindanao

Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao. Map courtesy of Google

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 05 February) – Two alleged members of Dawlah Islamiyah, a group linked to ISIS and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, were killed after they reportedly resisted arrest in Maguindanao.

Colonel Donald Madamba, provincial police commander identified the slain suspects as Rasul Dubpaleg and his cousin Bhadz Dubpaleg.

Madamba said they served an arrest warrant on the duo around 10:45 a.m. Thursday in Barangay Zapakan, Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao for their alleged involvement in bombings in Isulan in Sultan Kudarat, Midsayap in North Cotabato and Cotabato City.

The suspects were to be brought to the provincial police headquarters in Shariff Aguak town for booking and interrogation, but attempted to grab the firearms of one of the policemen, according to the report from the Police Regional Office of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-BARMM).

The commotion that followed resulted in gunshot wounds on the suspects, the report released by the office of Police BGen Samuel Rodriguez said.

It did not say if the suspects were handcuffed during the arrest.

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency listed Rasul as number 3 in the so-called Dawlah Islamiyah Hassan Group.

“The arrest of these suspects who were linked to local terrorists group BIFF is a great help in our fight against terrorism. Rest assured that the team of PRO-BARMM, together with the other agencies of the government will do our best to arrest other rebels hiding in Bangsamoro Region,” Rodriguez said.

The arrest was a joint operation of Maguindanao Police, Regional Public Safety Battalion of PRO-BARMM and several intelligence operatives.

Earlier this month, Rajah Buayan town residents declared ISIS-inspired terrorist groups as persona non grata.

In a peace rally led by Mayor Yacob Ampatuan, residents condemned the acts of terrorist groups, saying they are unacceptable to Islam and humanity.

They burned a black flag resembling the one used by groups that align themselves with ISIS.

A few days later, Ampatuan received threats of violent attacks purportedly coming from these groups.

Lt. Col. Elmer Boongaling, commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion lauded the efforts of the local government of Rajah Buayan which he said signaled to neighboring Sultan sa Barongis town to do the same in the coming days.

“From the barangays they created a resolution to declare these ISIS-inspired terror groups as persona non grata. This was discussed in the Sangguniang Bayan and approved during the previous peace and order council meeting condemning the acts of these violent groups,” Boongaling said.

At the dialogue with internally displaced persons in Shariff Aguak on Wednesday, the Army official challenged them to stand up to the ideas espoused by these groups.

“Kasi ang narrative nila usually ay ang Islam ay (Their usual narrative is that Islam is) under attack which in reality, according to local officials and residents, ay free naman silang magsamba or gawin ang (they’re free to worship or perform) religious peaceful activities nila, wala namang pumipigil (nobody is preventing them),” he added.

Muslim religious leaders, nongovernment organizations, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other groups in the region have been working together to prevent and counter the phenomenon of violent extremism. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)