TERRORIST with links to the Islamic State will not be able to launch another major attack like they did in Marawi City, the military said Monday.
Following the arrest of three individuals believed to have links with the Maute group in Iloilo Sunday afternoon, Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that authorities have taken steps to safeguard communities against the growing extremist threat in Mindanao.
“Well, there’s a possibility of one or two making it through. But being able to do something on the scale of Marawi, we don’t think so,” Padilla said. There couldn’t be anything like that. And that’s why we have strengthened our security along the borders and the areas where they could possibly use as avenues of escape,” Padilla said.
He added that the military is still verifying the identities of those arrested, but confirmed they came from Cagayan de Oro City.
This was the first time that authorities received a report that persons allegedly linked to the Maute group were monitored and apprehended outside of Mindanao.
The military earlier admitted that some members of the Maute group were able to slip past the Marawi City blockade and were able to escape to Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro.
During the 21-day siege, the government has rescued 1,637 civilians, seized 250 firearms and killed 257 terrorists.
At least 62 soldiers were killed while thousands of people have been displaced since the siege started last month.
In the same news briefing, Padilla said soldiers also seized more than 20 high-powered firearms last Saturday in Marawi City.
“You may not be aware of the nature of the confiscated firearms. These are among the firearms that have been confiscated and they are not ordinary firearms at all but high-powered firearms that can fire from afar, hit targets and destroy them,” he said.
“This is indicative of the length of planning that went into this operation…[that] they were able to get this number of firearms and bring them to the area of operations over a period of time,” he added.
Some improvised bombs were also confiscated.
An intelligence report obtained by the Manila Standard said the Abu Sayyaf Group has plans to launch a series of bomb attacks in General Santos City, Lanao del Sur and the cities of Zamboanga and Lamitan.
The report said that just recently the ASG sent some of its men in General Santos City to conduct “casing and recruitment” activities.
“New recruits will be utilized to execute said plan and probable targets include places of crowd convergence,” the report said.
The ASG led by sub-commander Isnilon Hapilon, the ISIS-recognized leader in Southeast Asia, was actively involved in the planning and execution by the Maute group of the Marawi siege.
The military and police have stepped up intelligence operations on the ASG amid reports that it was targeting another wave of kidnappings in Palawan.
It said one of the places in Palawan the ASG was targeting is Brooke’s Point.
“They could be targeting foreign nationals at beach resorts in the area to generate large ransom,” it said.
Also on Monday, jail officials said one of the 107 inmates freed by the Maute terrorists surrendered to to jail officials in Quezon City.
The escapee was identified as Mohaderin Banding Acampong, who is facing a murder case. Jail officials said Acampong stayed in Novaliches, Quezon City for weeks before he chose to surrender. With Rio N. Araja
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