ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — An Islamic State militant from Egypt and two Abu Sayyaf bomb makers were killed in an assault launched by elite Army forces late Friday night in the jungle of Patikul town, Sulu.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said troopers of the 4th Light Reaction Company (LRC) swooped down on an encampment of Abu Sayyaf gunmen under Mudzrimar “Mundi” Sawadjaan at 10:45 p.m in Barangay Igasan, Patikul.
He said a battle raged for 10 minutes until three militants fell dead, while the rest scampered off in different directions.
Vinluan identified those killed as Yusop, an Egyptian suicide bomber, and two trusted aides of Sawadjaan – Abu Khattab Jundullah alias “Saddam” and one alias “Akram,” both reportedly bomb experts.
“These three were under Mundi Sawadjaan, who is the mastermind of the twin suicide bombings in Jolo in August 2020 as well as the Jolo Cathedral suicide bombing on January 2019,” said Col. Benjamin Batara Jr., commander of 1102nd Infantry Brigade.
Batara said the assault team collected firearms of the terrorists, including an M653, M203 and an R4 with scope, and some personal belongings at the encounter site.
Vinluan said Yusop was the son of Reda Mohammad Mahmud, alias “Siti Aisyah,” and stepson of Abduramil, an Egyptian couple on separate suicide missions in Jolo in 2019.
However, Mahmud was neutralized by the military in Barangay Tagbak, Indanan, Sulu in September 2019, while Abduramil was intercepted and killed two months later while trying to slip a checkpoint in the same town, he added.
Since their deaths, Yusop volunteered as a suicide bomber and was one of the last five remaining foreign terrorists monitored in Sulu, said Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the 11th Infantry Division and the Joint Task Force Sulu.
“This is one less suicide bomber. I commend our ground forces for this monumental accomplishment. These neutralized terrorists are the cohorts of Mundi in executing atrocities. Without them, the possibility of another attack is slimmer,” Gonzales said.
He said the neutralization of foreign terrorists also cuts off financial support to the Abu Sayyaf group by its foreign terrorist affiliates.
“All things considered, we are optimistic that Mundi will soon meet his end,” Gonzales said as troops intensified the intelligence-driven hunt against the terror group in Sulu.