MANILA -- Government forces arrested in a raid Wednesday three Abu Sayyaf bandits who were accused of deadly bombings in the country, a police official said.
Chief Superintendent Don Montenegro, head of the police criminal investigation and detection group, identified the arrested bandits as Abdul Racman, Joer Demalon, and Mujahid Demalon.
The three have standing arrest warrants from a regional court in Alabel town, Sarangani province for murder, arson, and robbery, and were arrested Wednesday at their hide-out in Taguig City, Manila.
Montenegro said three grenades, detonating cords, and blasting caps were seized from the suspects who are believed to be members of a terror cell led by Abdul Basit Usman, a Filipino who is on the US State Department's list of most-wanted terrorists.
The US State Department identifies Usman as a bomb-making expert with links to the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf group and the Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiyah network. It puts a bounty of US $1 million for information leading to Usman’s conviction.
Pakistani military intelligence officers have said Usman was killed with other militants in a US drone strike on January 14 in Pakistani tribal regions.
But a Philippine military official said Usman was sighted near Maguindanao province after the reported drone attack and he was almost certain Usman was still in the Philippines.
The military is still verifying a report that the long-wanted Moro extremist was killed in Pakistan.
Wednesday's arrests of the three bandits in Taguig City follow the recent killing of an Abu Sayyaf commander, Albader Parad, who has been wanted for murder and kidnappings, as well as the capture of two key Abu Sayyaf members.
The Abu Sayyaf, which is fighting to create an Islamic state in the predominantly Christian nation, has about 400 fighters. The US identified it as a terrorist organization because of two decades of bomb attacks, kidnappings and attacks on civilians, particularly in Mindanao. (AP/Sunnex)