Bomb expert, wife fall in Maguindanao

By Francis T. Wakefield

The police and military on Sunday arrested a bomb expert and his wife in a raid against a lair of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao.

Fifteen members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters were killed while eight others were wounded in the operation which also resulted in the destruction of an improvised explosive device factory and recovery of IEDs.

The Army 6th Infantry Division headed by Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana led the operations at the boundary of Pagalungan and Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun.

Backed by Philippine Air Force assets, ground troops of the Army 33rd Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Harold M. Cabunoc, 4th Special Action Battalion led by Supt. Darwin Padla, and 61st Division Reconnaissance Co. led by 1st Lt. Ruel Fortuna, stormed the lair at the Liguasan Marsh.

A firefight ensued but the terrorists were outmaneuvered after about an hour, prompting two of them to surrender.

Cabunoc identified them as Ustadz Anwar Ali, 22, a bomb expert, and his wife, Asnaya Ali, 20. Seized from them were a caliber .50 sniper rifle and a caliber 5.56 mm M4 Carbine.

“The suspects threw their weapons and improvised bombs in the water when we blocked all their escape routes. Ustadz Anwar is known as Abu Omar, a bomb expert in the group,” Cabunoc said.

Sobejana directed his troops to cordon off all the escape routes and pursue the remnants of the elusive terrorist group.

“We will not allow these terrorists to spoil the peace in Central Mindanao. We will protect the people against those who espouse violent extremism,” Sobejana, who is the concurrent Joint Task Force Central Commander, said.