Tag Archive: Maria Rowena Muyuela

An aide of Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron was shot dead in Patikul, Sulu, not by government forces but by fellow members of the bandit group, the military reported.

Killed was one Nadzmil Ali, a “trusted” man of Sahiron, Armed Forces public affairs chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said Wednesday.

A Sulu-based military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ali, whose real name is Khalid Sali, was shot dead in Brgy. Buhanginan around 4 p.m. Monday.

Sali, an Abu Sayyaf sub-commander who served as Sahiron’s “right-hand man,” was bathing at a stream when he was shot, the official said.

Sali was shot with his own gun by a nephew, who fellow Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Furuji Indama had “agitated,” the source said.

“Pinaghihinalaan kasi nila Sawadjaan itong si Sali na informant ng military, na kung bakit tuwing magkakasama sila ay nae-engage sila ng tropa. Parang purging ang nangyari,” said the source.

A Manila-based military official monitoring developments in Sulu said Sali was a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who got integrated into the AFP.

Sali eventually earned the rank of captain in the military, but went AWOL sometime in 2008 then joined the Abu Sayyaf, the official said.

The Sulu-based official said security forces did not see Sali’s body as it was buried in Patikul on Tuesday.

“We are validating this report regarding the killing of Nadzmil Ali, and we are also verifying the report that he was indeed the former Army captain, Khalid Sali, who went AWOL seven years ago,” Cabunoc said.


Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, AFP Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said her office has also yet to receive an official report on Sali’s killing, but admitted hearing of the supposed dissention among Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders.

“Medyo may doubt na sila sa isa’t isa. Hinihintay ko pa ang official report diyan,” she said.

The Sulu-based official revealed that Sali’s killing prompted Sawadjaan and Indama to “split” from Sahiron’s group for fear of retaliation from the Abu Sayyaf top leader.

“Ngayon umalis na sila Sawadjaan, humiwalay kasama si Furuji, alam kasi nilang babawi si Radullan. Nasa Patikul pa rin sila pero ibang area na,” the official said.

“May infighting na sa kanila. Nag-move na sila Sawadjaan at Furuji na palitan si Sahiron, ang gusto nilang ipalit si Yasser Igasan,” the source added.

Sahiron, who is said to have taken over the helm of the Abu Sayyaf after Khadaffy Janjalani was killed in 2006, is included in the U.S.’ list of most wanted terrorists, with the State Department offering up to US$ 1 million for his capture.

Igasan is also a prominent Abu Sayyaf commander who, according to intelligence reports, should have succeeded Janjalani but was not acknowledged by Sahiron because he is more of a cleric and has relatively lower skills in combat. (John Roson)

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Three Malaysian operatives of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) were reportedly spotted among Abu Sayyaf members as government troops figured in another clash with the bandit group in Patikul, Sulu, Thursday.

The military revealed the information as it announced that 14 Abu Sayyaf members have been confirmed killed and 19 more were injured in previous clashes in Patikul on Wednesday.

“There is an information” on the three Malaysian JI operatives’ presence, Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command, said by phone.

Elements of the 14th Scout Ranger Company clashed with the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan “with the three JI Malaysian nationals” in Sitio Kanjimaw, Brgy. Tugas, 9:15 a.m., according a a report from the AFP Joint Task Group (JTG) Sulu.

“Civilian tipsters revealed that the three Malaysian members of the Jemaah Islamiyah were coddled by the group of Sawadjaan,” AFP public affairs office chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said in a statement.

Captain Antonio Bulao, JTG Sulu public affairs officer, said the firefight with the Abu Sayyaf men and their JI cohorts lasted for almost 15 minutes.

No soldier was injured in the fighting, while the Abu Sayyaf is believed to have suffered “casualties” because blood trails were seen along the bandits’ route of withdrawal to Sitio Gabang, Brgy. Bakong, Bulao said.

Troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion later discovered an encampment that can accommodate at least 50 persons, Cabunoc said.

16 dead, 35 hurt

The fresh clash occurred after troops battled about 300 Abu Sayyaf members led by Sawadjaan in Brgy. Tanum, also in Patikul, on Wednesday.

Two skirmishes occurred in Tanum, leaving a total of 16 combatants dead and 35 others wounded from both the government and Abu Sayyaf.

Fourteen Abu Sayyaf men were killed while 19 other bandits were hurt in Wednesday’s clashes, Muyuela said.

Some of the slain bandits were identified as Berhamin Jawhari, Musar Sawadjaan, Jani Madjid, Adzmar Muhammad, Ompoy Uran, and Mussal Jawhari, according to a report from JTG Sulu.

Eight other slain bandits have yet to be identified, but they were traced to have come from Luuk, Patikul, and Indanan, according to the report.

Bandit commander hurt

Soldiers are also checking information that Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan was injured in Wednesday’s clashes, Muyuela said.

“‘Yun po talaga ang report na nakarating sa amin, injured siya (Sawadjaan), kaya parang di masyadong makagalaw itong Abu Sayyaf from their position sa Patikul,” a military official based in Sulu said.

Sawadjaan, said to be almost “equal” in stature with Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron, is implicated in several incidents of kindapping incidents in Sulu.

“Nakita din ‘yung grupo ni Furuji Indama, na sa Basilan talaga nakabase, na kasama nila,” the Sulu-based official said on condition of anonymity.

Wednesday’s clashes also resulted in the death of two soldiers and wounding of 16 other troopers.

Killed were Cpl. Lonell Bautista, of Cavite; and Pfc. Ervin Roquero, of Negros Occidental, Cabunoc said, citing information from JTG Sulu.

Among 16 wounded are 1Lt. Ramsel Dugan and 2Lt. Bernard Mabazza. Most of the wounded were hit by shrapnel from 40mm grenade launchers, he said.

U.S. choppers to the rescue, again

The wounded soldiers were brought from the clash site to the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital in Jolo via military helicopters, according to JTG Sulu.

They were later transferred to Zamboanga City via choppers of the U.S. military’s defense contractor, Evergreen, the task group reported.

Evergreen helicopters were also seen helping transport some of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) members who were injured in the deadly clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25.

“Okay lang ‘yun, what is wrong with an ally helping another?” AFP spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla told reporters when asked if the U.S. assistance was legal.

“They (U.S.) are not directly involved in the operation because that will be violative of the Constitution… They share information and they assist in casualty evacuations,” Padilla added. (John Roson)

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Two Abu Sayyaf members were killed while at least 10 other people, including civilians, were injured when government troops clashed with the bandit group in Al Barka, Basilan, on Sunday, the military said.

Two bandits were killed and at least two others were wounded, said Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command.

Initial reports from the Joint Task Group Basilan indicate that three soldiers suffered slight injuries, Muyuela said.

Five civilians, including two young children, were wounded after being shot at by Abu Sayyaf members during the clash, said 1Lt. Sally Christine Magno, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 104th Brigade.

They were identified as Jumiran Misa, 52; Radisa Misa, 18; Sanima Husien, 29; Asma Husien, 2; and Sarfe Misa, 5; all residents of Sitio Peggesan, Brgy. Guinanta.

Elements of the Joint Task Group Basilan encountered Abu Sayyaf members led by Basir Kasaran in Brgy. Kuhon around 5:45 a.m.

As the fighting went on, bandits also shot at civilians near the encounter site around 11:35 a.m., so soldiers conducted rescue operations, Magno said.

After rescuing the civilians, soldiers brought them to a hospital in Lamitan City for first aid then transferred them to another facility in Isabela City, she said.

Sporadic firefights, meanwhile, went on until 1 p.m., Magno said.

The clash is a result of efforts of the multi-agency Task Force Kasanyangan, which aims to address the prevailing insurgency problem and revive governance in Al Barka, a known Abu Sayyaf stronghold, she said. (John Roson)

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Eight Abu Sayyaf members were either killed or injured while 13 soldiers were hurt when government troops battled a large number of bandits in Patikul, Sulu, on Friday, the military said.

The clash in Brgy. Buhanginan erupted around 11:50 a.m. and lasted for about an hour an a half, said Ensign Chester Ian Ramos, public affairs officer of the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Force Zambasulta (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi).

Eight “casualties” were monitored among the Abu Sayyaf while 13 soldiers were hurt, Ramos said in a text message.

In Manila, reports quoted AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc as saying that the eight Abu Sayyaf members were killed.

A Sulu-based military official, however, said it was not yet confirmed if the eight were indeed killed.

“May walo sa kalaban, hindi lang namin ma-validate pa kung patay pero walo ‘yun na dinala sa Sitio Kantitap, Brgy. Danag,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Ramos, based in Zamboanga City, said field reports sent by the Joint Task Group Sulu, only indicated that the Abu Sayyaf casualties were “dragged” by comrades to Sitio Kantitap.

“Hindi pa ma-ascertain kung ilan ang namatay,” Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the AFP Western Mindanao Command also based in Zamboanga, said.

Members of the 35th Infantry Battalion encountered the group of Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron, the Sulu-based source said.

Troops clashed with about 100 Abu Sayyaf members led by Sahiron, Hairullah Asbang, and Amlon Abtahi, according to a separate military report reaching Camp Aguinaldo.

Soldiers fired 105-millimeter Howitzer cannons while Air Force helicopter gunships were also used to support the ground troops, according to the report.

Most of the injured soldiers only suffered slight wounds and have been taken to the military camp in Jolo, the Sulu-based official said.

Members of the 35th IB, 32nd IB, and 1st Scout Ranger Battalion were conducting pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf as of Friday evening.

The fighting occurred just a day after two Abu Sayyaf members were killed and three more were wounded in a clash with members of the 32nd IB on Thursday.

A nephew of Sahiron was among those who died in that clash, which also resulted in the recovery of several high-powered firearms, the source said.

“Kahapon namatay ‘yung pamangkin niya (Sahiron) so nag-consolidate sila. Nag-pursuit naman kami tapos na-engage uli sila,” the source added. (John Roson)

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A member of the Army’s elite Scout Rangers was killed while four others were injured during a clash with Abu Sayyaf members in Patikul, Sulu, Sunday afternoon, the military said.

Elements of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion were conducting “law enforcement operations” in Bud Pula, Brgy. Bungkaong, 4 p.m. when they encountered about 60 Abu Sayyaf members, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela said.

The firefight, which lasted for more than an hour, resulted in the death of a soldier and the wounding of four others, Muyuela said in a text message Sunday night.

It was not immediately known if the bandits, who belong to the Abu Sayyaf’s so-called “Lucky 9” group or Ajang-Ajang, Muyuela said.

The bandits were led by Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders Hatib Aseri and Basarun Arok, whose followers ambushed a convoy of the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Bungkaong last Friday, she said.

Two soldiers were injured in the ambush.

Intelligence reports recieved by the military Sunday indicated that two of the attackers were killed and another was injured when the troops fought back, Muyuela said. (John Roson)

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(Update 10 p.m.) A man was killed while 48 other people were injured when an improvised bomb exploded beside a disco bar in Zamboanga City Friday afternoon, authorities said.

“One died while forty-five persons were wounded in the IED (improvised explosive device) explosion,” Zamboanga City police spokesman Superintendent Ariel Huesca said in a text message Friday night.

Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said in an emailed statement that the number of injured later rose to 48, as per the city government’s tally.

The victims were brought to the Western Mindanao Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Zamboanga Peninsula Hospital and Doctors Hospital, Huesca said.

Killed was Reynaldo Tan, while the injured include a person who is “critically wounded” and a policeman, city police information officer SPO2 Alex Mabalot said by phone.

‘Blast came from car’

The blast came from a car parked beside the Fantasy Disco Pub in Brgy. Guiwan, Muyuela said, citing information from the Task Group Zamboanga (TGZ).

The explosive was “encased” in a red Toyota sedan (WOH-608) owned by one Ralph Lakibul, a resident of Brgy. Canelar, according to a separate military report.

“Hindi totally nawasak ‘yung kotse, mare-recognize mo pa ‘yung porma niya na kotse, pero nakataas na ‘yung hood,” Mabalot said.

The site of the 3:30 p.m. explosion is located just across the street in front of the Guiwan Bus Terminal, he added.

Security tightened

Members of the TGZ and policemen have cordoned the area, Muyuela said.

Post-blast investigation was still ongoing Friday night “to determine the signature/type of IED used by the perpetrators,” Huesca said.

“Undetermined pa kung ano ang sumabog, maraming version, we are still waiting for the EOD (explosives and ordnance disposal unit) to report,” Mabalot said.

Additional policemen from the 9th Regional Public Safety Battalion and TGZ have also been scattered in and around the city to conduct checkpoints, Huesca said.

The explosion occurred while security forces are conducting an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in neighboring Basilan province.

The al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for several bombing incidents in Zamboanga City in the past.

Northern Mindanao alerted

Meanwhile, policemen in the neighboring region of Northern Mindanao were placed under full alert – the highest among three alert statuses – after the explosion in Zamboanga City.

All police units were told to observe the status in light of the IED explosion and “threats of terrorism,” regional police director Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said in a statement.

The full alert status comes with “target-hardening” measures, 24/7 checkpoints, deployment of EOD and K-9 units at bus terminals, maximized police visibility in areas of convergence, and border patrols, he said.

Northern Mindanao is connected to the Zamboanga Peninsula in the west by Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte.

The region’s two highly urbanized cities – Cagayan de Oro and Iligan – already experienced bombings by the Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic militants in recent years.

“While the PNP enourages vigilance, the public is advised not to panic… Community members are encouraged to report suspicious individuals and activities to the nearest police station,” Cruz said. (John Roson)

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Suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf abducted the 7-year-old son of a municipal treasurer in Jolo, Sulu, on Tuesday, the military said Wednesday.

Eljon Marzo, son of Maimbung town treasurer Jun Marzo, was abducted outside the family’s home in Brgy. Asturias around 5 p.m., Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela said.

Eljon was playing when two suspected Abu Sayyaf members forcibly took the boy on a motorcycle, then fled with him towards Brgy. Anuling, Muyuela said in an emailed statement.

Soldiers and policemen are now tracking down the abductors, of whom one has been identified as Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Namyel Ahajari alias Gapas, Muyuela said. (John Roson)

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