Alleged Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman was reported injured but was able to escape after a joint military and police raid in an isolated barangay in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, military officials said Wednesday.
According to a GMA News report, the raid transpired at around two 5:45 a.m. Tuesday. Troops from the First Mechanized brigade and 45th Infantry Battalion, together with Maguindanao police personnel, raided Usman’s hideout. Two of Usman’s relatives were killed in the incident.
“They fired rocket-propelled grenades at the assaulting team, but we coordinated our efforts and struck it right… suddenly, they were scampering to different directions as we closed in on them,” ground commander Lt.Col. Donald Hongitan of the 45th Infantry Battalion told GMA News.
Brigadier General Edmundo Pangilinan, commanding general of the Philippine Army’s 6th Division, said security forces managed to locate the hideout and explosives manufacturing facility of the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah after persistent intelligence work.
Pangilinan said four women were also arrested during raid and were turned over to the Maguindanao Police Women’s Desk for questioning. He said one of the women could be the wife of either Usman or Marwan, another JI top operative from Malaysia who was with the group.
A $1million reward was offered to anyone who can provide information that could lead to Usman’s capture.