The Armed Forces of the Philippines has seized a bomb-making factory during an assault on a Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) stronghold in Mamasapano, Maguindanao Sunday.
Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the Army 601st Infantry Brigade that led the offensive operations against the BIFF, said his troops captured the bandits’ sprawling three-hectare encampment in Barangay Dasikil.
“The enemy was able to escape but the equipment and materials that are used to fabricate home-made bombs were left behind,” said Feliciano.
The military has recovered a cache of vital bomb-making components such as mortar fuses, ammonium nitrate, blasting caps, and tie wires.
The camp, which has around 18 thatched houses, is reportedly owned by a BIFF leader named Mohammad Ali Tambako.
According to Feliciano, Tambako was responsible for violent atrocities against civilians in Maguindanao and North Cotabato and is allegedly among those who are coddling wanted Filipino bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman.
Meanwhile, Col. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces spokesman, confirmed the reported sightings of Usman in Mamasapano.
“The latest information was over the weekend, last Saturday during the operation wherein three of his (Usman’s) Tausug lieutenants were reported killed,” Padilla said.
Feliciano said Usman has Tambako and another BIFF leader named Kagi Karialan as his protectors.
“Karialan led the attack on Moro Islamic Liberation Front communities and civilian communities nearby in Kabasalan and Bulol, both in Pikit, North Cotabato in two separate occasions, displacing at least 25,000 people,” Feliciano said.
Several tipsters have reportedly seen Usman in the company of five foreigners who are believed to be members of international terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah.