Philippines captures suspected Indonesian would-be bomber
MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The Philippine Armed Forces on Saturday captured a suspected Indonesian suicide bomber who the Army believes was involved in a "very imminent" conspiracy to attack a southern city.
Army troops and police arrested Rezky Fantasya Rullie with two Filipino women believed to be the wives of Abu Sayyaf fighters at a house in the southern city of Jolo, Sulu Province, where they found an explosive vest and bomb components, the military's Western Mindanao Command said.
The military also announced that Rullie's husband Andi Baso, wanted in the Philippines and Indonesia for alleged involvement in bombings, was killed in a clash on August 29 near Sulu's town of Patikul.
Filipino forces stepped up the hunt for potential bombers in the troubled south after almost simultaneous suicide attacks by two militant women, killing 15 people and injuring 75 others, in August in the city of Jolo in the country's worst extremist attack of the year.
The two women who carried out the August 24 suicide bombings in Jolo were the wives of Abu Sayyaf militants who had died.
"It has become a family affair for some who have been unjustly indoctrinated," Army Chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana told The Associated Press.
At least eight other foreign militants in Sulu and the southern Maguindanao province were hunted down by government forces. This includes militants from Indonesia and Egypt, said Sobejana.
Rullie was involved in a "very imminent" conspiracy to carry out a suicide attack in Jolo before she was arrested, Sobejana said without elaborating. The Indonesian authorities are aware of the Filipino efforts to locate and capture Indonesian militants in the southern Philippines.
Rullie's parents were a militant couple who Filipino authorities said they carried out a suicide attack during Sunday mass at Jolo Cathedral in the predominantly Muslim province of Sulu, killing more than 20 people and injuring more than 100 others.
Her partner Andi Baso was blamed for an explosion in 2016 that killed a child and wounded three others in a church in Indonesia's East Kalimantan Province. Sobejana said he was killed in an exchange of fire with troops in Sulu in August, and a DNA test was performed to confirm whether a body recovered by troops was that of the Indonesian militant.
Rullie was arrested with two other women, including Inda Nurhaina, who, according to the military, is the wife of Abu Sayyaf commander Ben Yadah.
Yadah, known by his nom de Guerre Ben Tatoo, is one of the prime suspects in the 2016 beheadings of two Canadian tourists in Sulu who were held hostage by ransom-seeking Abu Sayyaf gunmen. Yadah remains at large and has been linked to the recent abductions in Sulu.
The United States and the Philippines have separately blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. It has been weakened by setbacks, surrenders and factions but remains a national security threat along with a number of smaller armed groups affiliated with the Islamic State Group.
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