ARRESTED. Suspected Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters members Jerwali Salem Zabel and Nasrullah Abdullah Walingan (center) are presented to police and military authorities after their arrest in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, on Monday (May 10, 2021). Seized from them (inset) were two homemade bombs and a .45-caliber pistol, authorities say. (Photo courtesy of 601Bde)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Two alleged members of Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who were part of those who briefly seized a town public market in Maguindanao recently were arrested by government forces, an Army official said Tuesday.

“They were arrested at the outskirts of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, on Monday afternoon, two days after they briefly showed force in the town market,” Brigadier General Roy Galido, commander of the Army's 601st Infantry Brigade, said.

Galido identified the two suspects as Jerwali Salem Zabel and Nasrullah Abdullah Walingan, both of the BIFF Karialan faction.

“They were held by residents living near the 109th base command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in the vicinity of Barangay Mangadeg, Datu Paglas,” Galido said in a statement.

He said the suspects admitted that they were supposed to deliver food to their comrades that are continuously being hunted by government forces when arrested.

Confiscated from the suspects were two improvised explosive devices and one .45-caliber pistol. They were turned over by the civilian residents and the MILF ceasefire committee representative to the military forces for proper filing of cases.

On Saturday, government forces intercepted and encountered dozens of BIFF members led by Sulayman Tudon of the BIFF Kagui Karialan faction in Datu Paglas town, leading to another round of skirmishes.

No casualties were reported from both sides.

Galido said the BIFF men in Datu Paglas escaped that time from “SPMS Box” (area shared by towns of Shariff Aguak, Datu Salibo, Mamasapano, and Datu Saudi Ampatuan all of Maguindanao) due to the military’s relentless campaign against them the past weeks.

Galido said government forces drove the militants out of the populated center of Datu Paglas before noon Saturday. They left four improvised bombs in the town center. (PNA)