3 terror suspects nabbed; NorMin on full alert status

(Updated) -- The Northern Mindanao police placed the entire region on full alert status following the arrest of three men with supposed links to the Maute local terror group at an inn along Kauswagan Highway, Cagayan de Oro City Sunday, March 26.

Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao, identified the suspects as Oding Alamada, Sidic Casubidan, and Bittyara Solaiman, all allegedly connected with the Maute group based on initial information from the intelligence community.

The suspects were arrested at Resonance Inn for illegal possession of explosives, illegal drugs, and firearm.

"Alleged members pa sila kay gi-verify pa ilang identities pero bisan pa ani gi-alert sa PRO-10 ang tibuok region (Their identities are still being verified but we have alerted the whole region)," Gonda said.

The suspects were arrested by operatives of Police Station 1 and a unit of the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) in a follow-up operation after receiving reports that the group left a live hand grenade at room 314 of Country Village Hotel in Carmen village.

Senior Inspector Maricris Mulat, police station 1 chief, said they acted based on information that reached their office that suspects were aboard a Tamaraw FX vehicle.

The officer added that prior to their follow-up operation, the hotel staff already reported to Police Station 4 in Carmen about the suspicious guests at room 314 and he said they also received information that the suspects frequent Resonance Inn while checked in at other hotels.

"After pagkakuha sa granada wala nadakop sa Carmen police kay wala diha ang mga suspects busa padayon mi sa pagbantay," (We waited for the suspects after confiscating the grenade because the suspects were still not there) Mulat said.

Few hours later, the police saw the vehicle and chased the suspects who tried to evade after noticing the presence of the policemen.

Authorities were also able to seized from the suspects' P36,000 worth of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" and drug paraphernalia, electrical wires and electrical tape, power bank battery and power bank power circuit regulator, hand gun barrel, laptop, portable DVD player, hotel room key and a .45 caliber pistol with magazine.

The police chief said the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) provided as back up in the event the suspects might be carrying more explosives.

Mulat said the recovered items have been turned over to the crime laboratory for examination to determine their possible connection to archived evidence from crimes relating to terrorism.

Mulat said they are also checking the identities of the suspects after Alamada identified himself as a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit while the two others claimed to be a farmer, a businessman, and a mechanic.

Mulat also said the two Tamaraw FX vehicles of the suspects will be subjected for verification from the Land Transportation Office.

The suspects denied the allegations that they are linked to the Maute group, saying they only came to the city to purchase a vehicle.

The police brought the suspects to the City Prosecutor's Office Monday for the inquest proceedings after authorities charged them with illegal possession of illegal drugs, firearms and explosives.

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