ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines -- Alert police arrested three people believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf in a pre-dawn raid in a village here on Friday. Chief Superintendent Billy Beltran, director of Police Regional Office 9, identified the arrested suspects as Jamar Musa Maing, Ahmad Tandih Lawisan and Omar Kumbing Tandih, all natives of Parang town in Sulu. Beltran said the arrested suspects are believed to be Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf under the Ajang Ajang Group. He said that bast on interrogation and on intelligence reports, the suspects were tasked with carrying out a bomb attack in the city.
The police official said the raid was prompted by an intelligence tip that members of the Abu Sayyaf Group are reportedly attempting to slip into the city to escape the military offensive in Sulu and who may be planning terror attacks in the Zamboanga peninsula. Beltran said police have been on high alert to preempt possible diversionary attacks by militants sympathetic to the Abu Sayyaf. Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, spokesperson of Zamboanga City Police Office, said their intelligence division unit backed police from Station 7 who raided a rented house near the motorpool of the City Water District about 2:58 a.m.
The suspects had been monitored carrying firearms, she said. Galvez declined to say if the suspects were linked with the Abu Sayyaf but said they were “persons with possible links with [a] threat group from Sulu.”
She said the arresting officers recovered ammunition, a camouflage uniform, a Mk.2 fragmentation grenade with canister and mobile phones from the suspects. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard Station here has tightened screening of passengers disembarking from ships from Sulu and Basilan. Coast Guard station commander Lt. (j.g.) Jimmy Berbo said his personnel, backed by their K-9 unit, are checking on suspicious cargo and have been checking passengers who may have came from the area where the military has been conducting operations.