Troops hunt down ASG bomber in Basilan

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.

June 20, 2023, 6:52 pm

<p>Google map of Basilan Island province.</p>

Google map of Basilan Island province.

ISABELA CITY, Basilan – Government troops under the Joint Task Force (JTF)-Basilan are hunting down an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bomber who fled Sulu province evading a government offensive, a top military official said Tuesday.

Col. Frederick Sales, JTF-Basilan acting commander, identified the target of the manhunt as Mudzirmar “Mundi” Sawadjaan, an alleged bomber and Sulu-based ASG sub-leader.

Sales said Sawadjaan and the group of Basilan-based ASG sub-leader Pasil Bayali have separated a few days after troops overran Bayali’s encampment in Sitio Lobloban, Barangay Guiong, Sumisip town, Sulu on June 3.

“Mundi (Sawadjaan) is on the run,” he said, adding that Sawadjaan fled Sulu together with three other Sulu-based ASG bandits sometime in March this year.

Military reports cited that Bayali was wounded during the June 3 clash, which resulted in the rescue of an Indonesian teenager brought by Sawadjaan to Basilan province from Sulu.

The teenager is the son of the late Indonesian couple Rullie Rian Zeke, 35, and his wife, Ulfah Handayani Saleh, 32. They were tagged as the perpetrators of the January 2019 bombing of the Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, the capital town of Sulu.

“He (Sawadjaan) is still here based on the latest intelligence report I received,” Sales said, adding that they are working closely with the Sulu-based 11th Infantry Division as the manhunt against Sawadjaan continues in the province.

Meanwhile, Sales said the rescued Indonesian teenager is still undergoing debriefing at the headquarters of the JTF-Basilan.

“There is no sign of indoctrination, and he refuses to become a suicide bomber like his parents,” he said. (PNA)