SECURITY forces arrested the ninth suspect in the September 2 Davao City night market bombing as Southeast Asian nations and Australia went on alert after foiling separate terror plots.
In Jakarta, Indonesian police foiled plans by an IS-linked group for a Christmas-time suicide bombing after killing three suspected militants Wednesday and discovering a cache of bombs, authorities said.
In Melbourne, Australian police said Friday they arrested seven people as part of an investigation into a plot to attack central Melbourne on or around Christmas Day. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the alleged terrorists planned to “explode improvised explosive devices” in the city’s business district.
Joint military and police operatives arrested the ninth suspect in the September 2 Davao City blast at a checkpoint in Barira, Maguindanao Thursday afternoon.
Army deputy public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson said a checkpoint manned by police and troops stopped six vehicles without plate numbes and arrested five people, including ex-PO2 Jessy Vincent Guinto Original alias Abu Aisha, formerly assigned at the Antipolo Police Station and a suspect in the Davao night market bombing.
Tiongson said some of the occupants of the vehicles managed to flee upon sighting government security personnel.
He said one of the vehicles contained materials for an improvised bomb. One of those arrested was carrying four fragmentation grenades, Tiongson added.
All six vehicles were confiscated.
Police earlier arrested eight out of the 12 suspects involved in the Davao City blast which killed 15 and wounded 70 others on September 2.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-ARMM said Original was planning terrorist activities in Cotabato City and Maguindanao with fellow Maute members.
Original admitted that he is a member of the Maute group, adding that a comrade in the police force convinced him to join.
He said he started studying about jihad even while he was still in the service.
“I joined when a case was filed against me. Infidelity in the custody of a prisoner and grave misconduct. That was when I became active in the jihad. I went AWOL,” he said.
The former cop said he went to Bicol where he met other Maute group members. He also went to Butig, Lanao del Sur, along with a certain “Haron” who is now detained as one of the suspects of the Davao City night market bombing.
Original admitted that he was in Davao City when an explosion hit the Davao night market last September but claimed he did not have a role but was in the vehicle that carried the perpetrators.
He also said there are more than 100 members of the Maute group scattered in the mountains near Barira town.
The ex-cop said he has no regrets giving up his job and joining the Maute group because he will be in paradise when he dies.
Aside from Original, police also arrested four other suspects – Ibrahim Pandita Arumpac, Hamsa Bagul, Musa Rasamal and Mohammad Said Jamla.
“They will not be able to leave the Lanao area because they are all being monitored. They are now looking for an exit and they decided on Barira. We learned that they were going to be picked up by a vehicle,” CIDG-ARMM deputy regional director William Santos said.
The government has launched an intensified campaign against the Maute group after the rebels tried to occupy Butig last month.