Authorities arrested in Sulu eight women, all relatives of Abu Sayyaf commanders, whom they accused of plotting suicide bomb attacks. Bomb-making materials were seized from at least three of those taken into custody, the Army said Tuesday.
Sulu, on the Philippines southwestern tip, was the site of a suicide blast in August 2020 that killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens others. It is also a known bailiwick of the Abu Sayyaf, which has a long history of kidnappings and bomb attacks.
"This is how desperate the remaining terrorists are, willing to sacrifice their families just to get back at government forces," said Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu.
The eight will be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Three are daughters of the late Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the Army said. They were identified as: Isara Jalmaani Abduhajan, 36; Jedah Abduhajan Amin, 28; and Elena Tasum Sawadjaan-Abun, 40.
Also arrested in Patikul town alongside the three was Firdauzia Said a.k.a Firdausia Salvin, widow of ASG sub-leader Mannul Said. The Army described her as a "potential suicide bomber."
Another raid in Jolo town, netted two more "potential suicide bombers" according to the Army, Nudsza Ismanu Aslun-- widow of ASG member Alias Jabar and Nurshahada A. Isnain--wife ASG member Alias Akram.
Three others were arrested and included in the charges, identified as Linda Darun Maruji, Risa Jhalil, and Sharifa Rajani.