ZAMBOANGA CITY, 19 September 2006 — Police yesterday intercepted a ferry loaded with a ton of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in the manufacture of bombs, in the southern port city of Zamboanga, officials said.
The boat was held just minutes after it arrived in Zamboanga from the restive island of Jolo, where security forces are battling members of the Abu Sayyaf group.
A ferry cargo inspector and four policemen assigned in Jolo were held for questioning in connection with the illegal cargo, said Maj. Frank Clavecillas, commander of the port police in Zamboanga City.
“This is definitely intended for something bad; a ton of this chemical can make a lot of homemade bombs,” he said. The chemicals were contained in twenty sacks.
Clavecillas said the cargo inspector tried to escape by jumping from the ferry, but he was later arrested after a long chase inside the port area.
“We have intelligence report that the cargo is intended for the Abu Sayyaf group which is planning to bomb civilian targets next month in time for the celebration of the Fiesta Pilar in Zamboanga City,” he told Arab News.
Fiesta Pilar, held every Oct. 12, is a major annual event in the southern Philippines.
“We have tightened security in Zamboanga port and we are closely coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to prevent the entry of explosives or bombs into the city,” Clavecillas said.
Authorities also announced yesterday the arrest of an alleged Abu Sayyaf member, Badiu Yunos, who was implicated in the kidnappings of three US citizens and dozens of Filipinos in 2001.
Yunos was cornered by troops who raided his hideout Thursday in the village of Maligi in Isabela, capital of Basilan island province, said Maj. Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman.
“He has been implicated in the kidnapping of American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and (Californian) Guillermo Sobero and dozens of civilians in in 2001,” Batara said.
The foreigners were kidnapped along with 17 Filipino holiday-makers in the posh Dos Palmas resort in Palawan province in southwestern Philippines. Abu Sayyaf guerrillas beheaded Sobero that year as their “birthday gift” to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Martin Burnham was killed by his captors during a US-aided rescue operation by Philippine troops in mid-2002; his wife survived a gunshot wound and was rescued. All the Filipino captives were ransomed or rescued separately.