Indonesia, Philippines make arrests linked to city siege

By on June 8, 2017


FILE: Yogyakarta in Central Java, Indonesia. (Photo: Victor Ulijn/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)
FILE: Yogyakarta in Central Java, Indonesia. (Photo: Victor Ulijn/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Indonesian and Philippine authorities have arrested several people suspected of links to Islamic militants who overran a city in the southern Philippines and two others who allegedly helped inspire a double suicide bombing in Jakarta, officials said Thursday.

Indonesian national police spokesman Martinus Sitompul said a man arrested Tuesday in the city of Yogyakarta in Central Java is suspected of helping Indonesians travel to Mindanao, where they joined Islamic State group-affiliated militants who still occupy parts of Marawi more than two weeks after their initial attack.

Police only gave the man’s initials and said four of those he helped are among seven Indonesians currently sought by Philippine authorities.

In the Philippines, officials said Cayamora Maute, the father of several of the militants behind the Marawi siege, was arrested Tuesday along with four other people at a checkpoint in southern Davao city. Maute was flown Thursday to a maximum-security detention centre in metropolitan Manila, the military said.

Former Marawi Mayor Fajad Umpar Salic was also arrested in southern Misamis Oriental province late Wednesday. Maute and Salic denied any role in the Marawi siege, military officials said.

More than 200 people—mostly militants involved in the Marawi siege, along with politicians and civilians who back the gunmen—have been ordered arrested, Philippine military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said.

The audacious attack on Marawi, and the participation of foreign fighters, has been a wakeup call for Southeast Asian governments about the potential of the southern Philippine region to become a magnet for Islamic State group sympathizers as it loses territory it controlled in Syria and Iraq.

The Philippine military says those killed since the fighting broke out on May 23 include 20 civilians, 138 militants and 39 government troops. More than 1,560 civilians have been rescued.

West Java police spokesman Yusri Yunus said two other men were captured Wednesday in the city of Bandung on suspicion of involvement in the May 24 suicide bombings that killed three policemen and the two suicide bombers.

Police said the men, Wachidun Triyono and Muslih Afifi, and another militant arrested earlier, Muhammad Iqbal, held a meeting with the two suicide bombers on May 19 in the West Java town of Cileunyi during which they steeled their resolve to carry out the bombings.

Police also say Iqbal, who was freed from prison in 2015 after serving a sentence for involvement in a bomb-making laboratory discovered in 2010, was the bomb maker.

All those connected to the suicide bombing were members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, a network of Indonesian extremist groups that pledges allegiance to Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to police.