COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Police killed two suspected members of the terrorist group Dawlah Islamiyah – both linked to a recent bombing of a bus in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat – during a shootout in Cotabato City on Sunday, November 27.
Authorities identified those killed as Cotabato residents Aiman Mandi Ali, also known as Aiman Ali or Abu Aiman, and his partner Hairon Akmad Martin.
Police alleged that Mandi and Martin were among those behind the November 6 bomb attack that killed a man and 11 others in a bus owned by Yellow Bus Lines in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat province.
Lieutenant Colonel Lino Capellan, the spokesman of the police in the Soccsksargen region, said authorities were serving arrest warrants to the suspects when they resisted and put up a fight in Purok Pinnen, Barangay Rosary Heights 6 in Cotabato City.
The arrest warrants were issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 19 in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat in connection with illegal arms possession and gun running cases.
Police found a caliber .45 pistol, a drone, an explosive, and documents at the scene of the shootout.
Capellan said Mandi was also suspected to have had a hand in the South Seas Mall bombing that killed at least two people and hurt 34 others in Cotabato City in 2018.
He said the same suspect had been part of the Dawlah Islamiyah’s Abu Turaife and Salahudin Hassan groups in Central Mindanao.
Mandi and Martin started with the Ansar Al Khilafa terror group in Marawi City and moved to Cotabato City after the government cracked down on the Maute Group in the aftermath of the Marawi Siege, police alleged.
Authorities said the suspects’ deaths were a setback to the Dawlah Islamiyah group in Mindanao in that they were allegedly the ones bringing bombs from one place to another, and were among those raising funds for the organization through extortion.
Police earlier pointed to the Dawlah Islamiyah as the group behind the bus bombing in Tacurong, carried out to force the Yellow Bus Lines to give in to the group’s extortion demands.
A man who died in the bus explosion, 55-year-old Esmael Tamama Domilang, was believed to be among those behind the November 6 bomb attack, said Soccsksargen police chief Brigadier General Jimili Macaraeg.
Investigators said the bomb went off prematurely.
Yellow Bus Lines lost two other buses to nearly simultaneous bomb attacks in Tacurong and Koronadal cities in May. – Rappler.com