ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Joint police and military operatives arrested an alleged explosives expert of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in this city, an official announced Tuesday.
Senior Supt. Vincent Neri Ignacio, Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) director, identified the suspect as Benjar Engeng alias Ben Akmad, a native of Basilan province and temporarily residing at Maharlika Village in Taguig City.
Ignacio said Engeng was arrested in a law enforcement operation by police serving a search warrant at around 10:45 p.m. Monday at a pension house in Barangay Divisoria, Zamboanga City.
Ignacio said the arresting team recovered an improvised bomb concealed in a black bag and placed inside the cabinet of Engeng’s room.
He said the Explosive Ordnance Demolition (EOD) then worked to disrupt the recovered improvised bomb.
“The type of IED (Improvised Explosive Device) shows the expertise of this person, meaning he has gone a lot of experience,” he said.
He said Engeng, who is an alleged bomb expert and trainor, is a follower of Imam Intong Mandan, one of the ASG leaders.
Engeng, however, denied he was an ASG member and a bomb expert of the bandit group. Engeng claimed he just assisted his cousin, who assembled the improvised bomb that was recovered inside the cabinet.
He identified his cousin only as a certain Amilhassan.
“Actually, it will not explode,” Engeng said, noting that it was just a bomb replica.
He added that Amilhassan was contracted by a resident of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi to assemble the bomb replica. He said they would be paid P30,000 once they send the picture of the bomb replica to the person who contracted Amilhassan.
Amilhassan was not around when the lawmen swooped down on the pension house and arrested Engeng.
Engeng suspects he was framed by his cousin.
Ignacio said that charges for illegal possession of explosive would be filed against Engeng, who is detained at the ZCPO headquarters.