THE Philippines has agreed to allow Malaysian police to question two Abu Sayyaf extremists who were arrested last week over their supposed involvement in the beheading of Malaysian engineer Bernard Then, according to Malaysian media.
“In the spirit of partnership, the Philippines side is open to granting access to the Malaysian police to these two suspects once a formal request has been made and the parameters for the access are finalized,” the Malaysian daily The Star quoted the Philippine embassy as saying in a statement.
The Star said Kuala Lumpur and Manila will likely use the bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty because the two nations do not have an extradition treaty.
The report said Malaysian authorities want to question suspected Abu Sayyaf members Kadafi Muktadil and Saddam Jailani, two suspects linked to the beheading of Then, the Sarawakian engineer who was taken by militants from a Sabah restaurant in May.
Muktadil is believed to be involved in the May 14 kidnapping of Then and Thien Nuk Fun, the manager of the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan, Sabah, where they were abducted and held for six months.
On Nov. 8, Thien was released unharmed purportedly after the payment of ransom, but Thien was beheaded just as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit was beginning in Manila on Nov. 18.
Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of the military’s Joint Task Group Sulu, said Muktadil, who is also known as Khadaffy Camsa, was arrested while undergoing treatment of motorcycle crash injuries at the Integrated Provincial Hospital in Jolo Friday morning.
Muktadil has an outstanding warrant of arrest for kidnapping issued by courts in Sandakan, Sabah.
Jailani, on the other hand, was arrested in Kabacan, North Cotabato on Nov. 24 after they were found in possession of an automatic rifle, three pistols and 11 magazines. Jailani was arrested with two other unidentified Abu Sayyaf members, police said.
The three individuals are currently being detained by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police.
The Abu Sayyaf group is still holding two Canadian tourists and a Norwegian businessman abducted in Mindanao in September, along with a Dutch birdwatcher kidnapped in 2012.
They are also widely believed to be holding an Italian pizza restaurant owner snatched in the region in October.
Meanwhile, an Abu Sayyaf camp in Patikul, Sulu, believed to be under the command of subleader Radullan Sahiron, was bombarded by government forces early on Thursday.
The attacks came following the reported presence of Jemaah Islamiyah militants in Mindanao who were said to have established partnerships with the Abu Sayyaf bandits and Muslim rebel factions with links to the Islamic State.
Arrojado said the camp seized by the troops from the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion belonged to the group of one-armed Abu Sayyaf leader Sahiron.
“Troops fired six rounds of 81 mm mortars and six 105 mm shells on the ASG position at midnight [of Thursday], causing undetermined casualties on the side on the enemies,” Arrojado said, adding that the camp could accommodate 300.
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