A trusted aide of terrorist leader Mudzrimar Mundi Sawadjaan was arrested in Zamboanga City over the weekend, while a relative of his was killed while being pursued by government forces in Patikul, Sulu, authorities said Monday.
Hashim Saripada, alias Ibnu Kashir Saripada, was arrested by operatives of Regional Intelligence Unit-9 and 84th Special Action Company (Seaborne) in Barangay Recodo around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday., Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan announced Monday.
Later, Arsibar Sawadjaan was slain as government troops overran a temporary Abu Sayyaf Group lair in Patikul's Barangay Maligay after being tipped off by a resident, according to Lt. Col. Ronaldo Mateo, public information officer of Joint Task Force Sulu.
Mundi Sawadjaan, who remains at large, has been identified by officials as the main suspect behind last month's twin blasts in Jolo town proper that killed more than two dozen persons and injured over 70 others, including military and police personnel.
The armed engagement of the Philippine Army's 45th Infantry Battalion with some 40 militants, under the group of ASG leaders Radullan Sahiron and Mundi Sawadjaan, at around 9 a.m. Monday led to the death of Arsibar, Mateo said.
Authorities said Arsibar, said to be a bomb maker, is a cousin of Mundi Sawadjaan, the mastermind of the Aug. 24 explosions in Jolo.
Cascolan, meanwhile, said Saripada’s arrest is a big blow to Sawadjaan’s group.
“Saripada is the assistant of Mundi Sawadjaan, this will be a very, very big blow on him as he lost a trusted aide, and this one is his assistant so most of his activities have been shelved because of that and he knows he's being monitored by all intelligence and anti-terrorism units,” the PNP chief said.
Cascolan said Saripada was wanted for the crimes of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder. Seized from the suspect were a hand grenade and materials for making improvised explosive devices.
Based on police reports, Saripada had a key role in the July 31, 2018 bombing of a CAFGU detachment in Sitio Magkawit, Barangay Maganda, Lamitan City, Basilan.
Saripada, together with Sawadjaan, also reportedly prepared the IED detonated by an Indonesian couple at the Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on January 27, 2019.
“Investigation revealed that Saripada facilitated Al-Maghribi’s travel from Sulu to Basilan," Cascolan told reporters during a press conference at Camp Crame.
Al-Maghribi is the suspected suicide bomber in the Basilan blast.
Following the Lamitan bombing, Saripada went into hiding in an island in Sulu, said PNP Intelligence Group chief Brig. Gen. Edgar Monsalve.
His arrest was a result of the strengthened coordination of the police with the community, he added.
Police and military forces are now hunting Sawadjaan who was also tagged as the brains behind the twin suicide bombings in Jolo on August 24, 2020 which claimed 15 lives.
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