AFP, PNP ready for possible retaliation from terror group

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COTABATO CITY – Police and military authorities in the Soccsksargen region and in Maguindanao are bracing for possible retaliatory attacks after the death of high profile bomber in Tacurong City last week.

The slain bomber was involved in the Marawi siege in 2017 and the Jolo Catherdral suicide bombings, according to Colonel Roy Galido, 601st Infantry Brigade commander.

Police and military forces neutralized a suspected bomber during a running gun battle along the Isulan-Tacurong City highway in Sultan Kudarat province on Thursday.

He was identified as Abdul Rashid Lamalan, allegedly a bomb expert of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Galido said all Army units in the region are on high alert status following the death of Lamalan who was suspected of providing training to members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao. In nearby Isulan town, police chief Lt. Colonel Romeo Galgo said all police units and quarantine checkpoints in the capital town have been placed on double red alert status following the foiled bomb attempt.

Lamalan allegedly facilitated and guided the perpetrators of the Jolo Cathedral bombing in January 2019 that left 28 people dead, including the two alleged Indonesian bombers, and more than 100 Churchgoers and soldiers were injured.

Intelligence information said Lamalan left Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Thursday dawn on his way to Tacurong City on board a license plate-less motorbike. Along the Isulan-Tacurong highway, Lamalan sped away when flagged down, forcing police to give chase while other cops alerted an Army-CAFGU checkpoint in Barangay ECJ Montilla for back up.

During the pursuit operation, Lamalan opened fire on pursuing lawmen, triggering a running gun battle that left Lamalan dead, according to police investigator on case Corporal Ellrey Dasmariñas. Police found beside the slain body of Lamalan a cal. 45 pistol, a laminated sack with rice with two rifle grenades, and a fragmentation grenade.

Dasmariñas said Lamalan carries the aliases “Jamir,” “Abdulah Montawal” and “Spike,” and a resident of Barangay Pagagawan, Datu Montawal, Maguindanao. Authorities could not say where the slain bomber intended to set off the IED.

Both Calido and Brig. Gen. John Dubria, police regional director for Soccsksargen region, lauded the police and military personnel for preventing another bombing try. -Edwin O. Fernandez

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