Philippines hunts ‘coddled’ most-wanted bombmaker

Updated 02 March 2015

Philippines hunts ‘coddled’ most-wanted bombmaker

MANILA: The Philippine military is trying to capture a bombmaker it believes is being “coddled” by Filipino militants who have pledged loyalty to Islamic State, authorities said Sunday.
The capture of Abdel Basit Usman is one of the objectives of a major army offensive on the southern island of Mindanao, said local military commander Major General Edmundo Pangilinan.
The US government has Usman on its most-wanted list with a one million dollar bounty on his head. Washington and Manila say he has links to Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf, two groups of Southeast Asian militants.
Pangilinan said the military believes Usman is being sheltered by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which has vowed support to the Islamic State jihadist group that controls swathes of Iraq and Syria.
“Basit Usman is still believed to be in the area. We believe the BIFF, this armed, lawless group, are the ones coddling and protecting him. We are still pursuing him,” he told AFP.
“Field reports indicated that three (Filipino Muslim) lieutenants of Basit Usman were killed in the assault,” a military statement said.
“More troops were sent in to scour the hiding places of Usman,” it added. Military officials declined to specify how many soldiers were involved.
More than 10,000 residents have fled since the fighting began last week between the army and the BIFF in the province of Maguindanao on Mindanao, a government spokesman said, adding that Manila was providing aid to them.Pangilinan said the military was also confirming reports of four Indonesians and an Arab who may be with Usman and the BIFF.
“Airstrikes and artillery fire were delivered (on Saturday) after information of the location of the targets were identified,” a military statement said, without specifying if anyone was hit.
Usman was one of the targets of a botched police commando operation in the same area on January 25.
Forty-four commandoes were killed in the raid, triggering a wave of outrage which has shaken the administration of President Benigno Aquino.
Usman was not captured. But initial DNA tests from another body indicated the raid may have succeeded in killing another target, Zulkifli bin Hir.


Sweden arrests 2 more suspects in Denmark tax office blast

Updated 50 min 18 sec ago

Sweden arrests 2 more suspects in Denmark tax office blast

  • One of the suspects is being sought on an international arrest warrant
  • Authorities said they are confident they will catch the perpetrators

COPENHAGEN: Police in Denmark say their Swedish colleagues have arrested two more people in connection with an early morning explosion that damaged the headquarters of the Danish Tax Agency, slightly injuring a bystander.
The Copenhagen police say the arrest of the two men, aged 22 and 27, bring to three the number of people in custody. A fourth suspect is being sought on an international arrest warrant.
Investigator Brian Belling said in a statement Thursday that police are continuing their investigation, adding, “we are confident that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.”
Police did not immediately link the Aug. 6 tax agency blast to another one, four days later, at a nearby police station, though they said industrial explosives were used in both. No one was injured in the police station explosion.