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Año: Suicide bomber still lurks about

Another potential suicide bomber, a Yemeni, is currently in Mindanao, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Friday and has been living in the country for over a year now along with other foreign terrorists.

Indonesian, Pakistani, Egyptian and Malaysian terrorists are also in Basilan and Maguindanao apart from the Yemeni—who the secretary did not name—and other local anarchists, Año said in a UNTV report.

“The trained suicide bomber we are referring is a Yemeni national. There are foreign terrorists who are also living in other parts of Mindanao, but we cannot say that he is a suicide bomber because they are foreign tourists providing support and advice to the local Abu Sayyaf, except for this Arab-looking national inside the Sawadjaan camp,” he added.

Año said the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which has control over the Philippine National Police, currently has no intelligence reports on any plans the Yemeni terrorist has.

Authorities continue to be on their guard against terrorist bombers after an Abu Sayyaf cell led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan bombed the Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Sulu during a Mass last Jan. 27, killing 23 and injuring over 100.

The twin blasts prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to call an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf, the communist New People’s Army, and other terrorist groups in the country.

Meanwhile, government troops on Friday launched wide-scale search and rescue operations to save three foreign hostages from being beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf.

A video posted online by the ASG, showed the hostages—believed to be Indonesians Heri Adiansyah, 19 and Hariadin, 45—blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their back, under guard by armed bandits.

One bandit held a bolo to Hariadin’s neck as he made an emotional appeal to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to save them. The other hostage, Malaysian Jari Abdullah, 24, was not shown in the video.

The video was posted online after the bandits contacted Jari’s wife, who made a futile appeal to the Malaysian government.

The ASG demanded an undetermined amount for their ransom.

Duterte on Friday said he would appeal to Moro National Liberation Front chair Nur Misuari to negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf to end the hostaging.

“I would appeal to Nur Misuari to stop it. And tell the Abu Sayyaf that, ‘Look we’re talking. Don’t make it hard for us to seek peace in our land’,” the President said in a chance interview with Palace reporters. 

A spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, however, rejected any talks with the bandits.

“We never negotiate with the terrorists or kidnappers,” said AFP Public Affairs chief Col. Noel Detoyato. “We will just continue with our ongoing combat operations,” he said.

The Abu Sayyaf are still holding eight hostages including the two Indonesians and the Malaysian, Netherlands bird watcher Ewol Horn and four others.

The Palace said it is doing all it can to guarantee the safe release of the hostages.

The three were in their Sandakan-based fishing boats in eastern Sabah waters, which is near Tawi-Tawi, when the ASG abducted them.

“We are doing our best to secure the release of hostages from the evil hands of the ASG, but we stand firm on our no ransom policy,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

READ: 2 Abu Sayyaf killed, 2 hurt in clash with troops in Sulu

“To give in to the demands of terrorists and other lawless groups would embolden them to engage in more abductions that would allow them to conduct extremist and other criminal activities as they could buy more arms and weapons,” he added.

According to the Palace official, the ASG “continues to be on the run” after President Duterte declared an “all-out war” against them, ordering the country’s armed forces to pulverize the terrorist group.

“Our security forces are hunting them in the wild forests of Mindanao to unleash their might and blow them to kingdom come,” Panelo said.

On Wednesday, the President urged Indonesia and Malaysia to work together with the country in combating crime across the seas. With Nat Mariano

READ: 349 officials aiding Reds? Interior draws up watchlist

Topics: Eduardo Año , suicide bomber , Department of the Interior and Local Government , Philippine National Police
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