A relative of Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS-Philippines emir Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan who was killed by military troops last Tuesday is a suicide bomber just awaiting orders to strike in Sulu, the military reported yesterday.
Lt. Col. Gerard Monfort, spokesman of the military’s Joint Task Force Sulu, said Nanz Sawadjaan was one of the two suicide bombers being hunted by the military in Sulu.
Nanz is a nephew of the Abu Sayyaf leader, clarifying an earlier statement by AFP Western Mindanao Command spokesman Maj. Arvin Encinas who said Nanz was a younger brother of the Abu Sayyaf leader.
Monfort said Nanz, who is in his 20s, has a brother in the Abu Sayyaf, identified as Mundi Sawadjaan, said to be a bomb expert.
Encinas has said Nanz “is one of the ASG’s bomb experts who produced the improvised explosive devices used in the recent suicide bombing incidents in Sulu.”
Nanz was killed in a firefight with government troops in Barangay Langhub in Patikul town before noon Tuesday. Three soldiers were injured in the firefight, which also resulted in the seizure of an Abu Sayyaf camp and recovery of an assault rifle.
The body of Nanz was buried by the military on Wednesday “in accordance with the Muslim tradition.”
“According to (intelligence) reports, the younger Sawadjaan has signified to carry out a suicide bombing in Sulu and is just awaiting orders from the ASG hierarchy,” Monfort said of Nanz.
Asked whose order Nanz was waiting for, Monfort said: “Definitely from Hatib Sawadjaan.”
Earlier, AFP Wesmincom chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said there are two suicide bombers left in Sulu, part of the original five suicide bombers recently monitored in Sulu. Three of them died during two suicide bombings in Indanan town in June and last Sunday.
“He is the fourth (among the five suicide bombers),” Monfort said of Nanz, leaving just one suicide bomber on the loose in Sulu.
“The neutralization of the volunteer suicide bomber Nanz Sawadjaan is a momentous achievement we can offer to the people of Sulu. He could have brought enormous destruction in the province if he had carried out the suicide bombing,” said JTF Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr.
“The positive developments in our campaign to end the ASG in Sulu were made possible because of the active participation of the peace-loving Tausug community. This only proves that the people of Sulu recognize the relevance of peace in their province and are already fed-up of terrorists’
presence. Hence, I am confident that the problem with the ASG in Sulu will soon be over,” added Vinluan.
Yesterday, Monfort said troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf members in Barangay Latih also in Patikul town at around 4:30 p.m. One soldier was wounded while there were undetermined casualties on the Abu Sayyaf side.
Monfort said the encountered Abu Sayyaf group was composed of about 50 men, believed to be under the Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS-Philippines emir.