ARRESTED. Ali Akbar, suspect in bus bombing and burning incidents in North Cotabato, is arrested in Barangay East Patadon, Kidapawan City on Monday morning (June 21, 2021). Police and the military found improvised bombs (inset) near his hideout. (Photo courtesy of 602nd Brigade)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – The suspected mastermind of the Yellow Bus Line (YBL) bus burning in January and early this month, both in North Cotabato, was arrested in Kidapawan City on Monday morning.

Suspect Ali Akbar was nabbed by joint elements of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade, 90th Infantry Battalion, 72nd Infantry Battalion, and the local police in Purok 3, Barangay East Patadon at about 5 a.m., according to Brig. Gen. Roberto Capulong, commander of the 602nd Infantry Brigade.

Capulong said Akbar is an improvised explosive device (IED) expert and an extortionist belonging to the Dawlah Islamiya (DI)-Hassan Group.

“Akbar was nabbed based on the warrant of arrest issued by Branch 23, Regional Trial Court, 12th Judicial Region, for double murder and multiple frustrated murder,” Capulong said in a statement.

Authorities seized two IEDs, a blasting cap, IED components, and an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria flag from Akbar.

On January 27, an improvised bomb went off beside a YBL unit in Tulunan town, killing a roadside fruit vendor and injuring three others.

On June 3, a YBL unit was burned in Barangay Bialong, M’lang, killing three passengers who got trapped.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, Army’s 6th Infantry division commander and concurrent chief of the Joint Task Force Central (JTFC), lauded the operating units and vowed to continuously pursue and hunt down the remnants of the terrorist group.

“The DI does not have a place in our community and with the help of the residents and local government units in Central Mindanao, we will defeat them ultimately,” Uy told reporters in an interview.

He pointed out that several communities and provinces under the JTFC have declared the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the DI terror groups unwelcome in their areas. (PNA)