8 Abu Sayyaf arrested in Sabah

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ZAMBOANGA CITY – The collaboration of the Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu’s 4th Marine Brigade and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) led to the arrest of eight Abu Sayyaf bandits, including two mid-level leaders, military officials announced Monday.

Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, JTF-Sulu commander said that Abu Sayyaf mid-level leaders Sansibar Bensio and Mabar Binda, who led the kidnapping of several local and foreign nationals in the country, were arrested in a special police operation the launched by the ESSCOM around 3 o’clock in the morning, Saturday, in Jalan Taman Sri Arjuna, Beaufort, Sabah.

Gonzales noted that Bensio was involved in the kidnapping of foreign Lorenzo Vinciguerra (Swiss), Elwold Horn (Dutch), Samiun Bin Maneu, Maharudin Bin Lunani, and Muhammad Farhan (Indonesians) and Filipinos Ronnie Sandagon, Jerel T Pepito, Eddie Reubal, Marcial España, Arvin Sabaduquia, Rufino Bustillo, Joseph Bani, Hajan Terong, Joshua Bani and Michelle Tolentino Panes.

Meantime, Gonzales said that Binda, along with his father, slain Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Hatib Munap Binda, was also with Bensio’s group in the kidnapping of the three Indonesians. Both Bensio and Binda have been involved in armed clashes with the military in the second district of Sulu.

In the same special police operation, the ESSCOM operatives have also apprehended six Abu Sayyaf followers, namely, Muayyar Binda, Alim Sukarno, Lugah Sanchez, Bonijar Samsula, a certain Sansis, and a certain Firdaus.

Col. Hernanie Songano, commander of the 4th Marine Brigade, said that they were arrested following the intensive intelligence build-up of his command.

“These ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) personalities have moved to Sabah around March this year. We have been closely monitoring the activities of this Eastern Sulu kidnap-for-ransom group as it is highly possible that they intend to make Sabah their staging point for their kidnapping activities. They know that it will be very difficult for them to launch atrocities in Sulu due to the persistent military operations in the area,” Songano said.

Gonzales has commended the extraordinary efforts of the 4th Marine Brigade against the key personalities of the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf.

“I salute our Marines as they have again proven their determination to contribute to the JTF-Sulu’s mission to eliminate these terror groups, particularly in the 2nd District of Sulu,” Gonzales said.

“Whether they seek refuge in nearby provinces or outside our area of operations, if they have caused atrocities or continue to spoil our peace initiatives here in Sulu – they will surely be made accountable and to face the rule of law,” he added. – Nikolai Gonzalo

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