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01/20/2020 Philippines (International Christian Concern) – Two suspected Abu Sayyaf militants tasked with carrying out a bomb attack at a Catholic cathedral in Basilan province in the southern Philippines were arrested, after security forces foiled their alleged plot to bomb the church, according to the police.

BenarNews reports that joint police and military forces launched the operation Tuesday based on an intelligence report that an Islamic State-linked faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was planning to attack the church in the predominantly Muslim province.

“They were arrested in their hideout in the village of Menzi, barely a few kilometers from downtown Isabela City,” regional police chief Brig. Gen. Froilan Quidilla said.

Explosive materials, including more than 3 kilos (6.6 pounds) of assorted nails, blasting caps, 1.5-volt batteries, and wires were recovered from their hideout. Two suspects, identified as Muzrim Illahan and Kadir Ajanal, are both followers of Furuji Indama, the Abu Sayyaf’s overall leader on the island.

Both of them confessed that they were instructed to carry out the bombing last month, but did not follow through due to tight security, the police chief said, adding that they were being interrogated about another possible bomb plot.

It was not immediately clear whether the suspects had any links with militants under the command of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, a senior Abu Sayyaf militant who was the mastermind behind a twin bombing at a church on southern Jolo island in January 2019, which left more than 20 people dead and was carried out by Indonesian suicide bombers.

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