World Bulletin / News Desk
The Philippines’ military confirmed Saturday that an Indonesian national believed to be an expert bomb-maker was among eight suspected members of a ISIL-linked group killed in a clash earlier this week.
The 6th Infantry Division’s commander identified the suspect as Ibrahim Ali, a senior member of the Mujahideen Indonesian Timur, or the East Indonesia Mujahideen, which has taken responsibility for the killing of several Indonesian police officers and is believed to have many foreign members.
According to Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan’s statement, Ali -- alias Hudzaifa -- had been training fighters in the Philippines’ southern Sultan Kudarat province in bomb-making.
Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, 1st Marine Brigade commander, said in a separate statement that Ali was killed in the firefight that broke out at dawn Thursday when gunmen reportedly fired on security forces in Butril village, Palimbang town.
According to Salamat, the marines and police officials had traveled to Butril to serve warrants of arrest against the gunmen’s leader -- Mohammad Jaafar Sabiwang Maguid, alias Commander Tokboy -- when the encounter occurred.
After the four-hour clash, eight bodies -- including that of Ibrahim Ali -- were found scattered across the encampment of the ISIL-affiliated group. Authorities say Commander Tokboy escaped the scene.
The Philippine News Agency reported Pangilinan as saying Friday that Ali had been arrested in Zamboanga City in 2005 for illegal possession of firearms, only to be released in 2013 due to the weakness of the case against him.
He told the news conference that Ali had been teaching bomb-making to fighters under Commander Tokboy ever since.
Commander Tokboy has four standing warrants of arrest and was involved in a series of "atrocities and violence" -- including murders, highway robberies, extortion and cattle raiding -- in the South Cotabato region since August 2008, according to Pangilinan’s statement.
He had been captured in 2009 in Maasim town, Sarangani province, but managed to escape from jail.
Army spokesperson Major Filemon Tan Jr. told GMA News after Thursday’s clash that Commander Tokboy’s group uses the ISIL flag, "but they are not recognized by ISIL yet."