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Bomb expert linked to 2000 Rizal Day bombings nabbed

- Cecille Suerte Felipe -

MANILA, Philippines - Police and military intelligence agents arrested yesterday in Marawi City a suspected bomb expert who was implicated in the Rizal Day bombings in Metro Manila in 2000 that killed 12 people.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Region Police director Chief Superintendent Bensali Jabarani said Ansar Bernardino Venancio, alias Hasan Venancio, was arrested in his hideout in Marawi City.

Police learned that Venancio is linked to the Indonesia-based Southeast Asia terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which in turn has connections with the al-Qaeda international terror network led by Osama bin Laden.

Three people identified as Abdul Fatak Paute, Mamasao Naga and Muklis Yunos were charged in connection with the Rizal Day bombings and were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Yunos was the explosives expert and alleged leader of the MILF’s Special Operations Group.

Jabarani said security forces raided the safehouse of Venancio in Sitio Dagubduban, Barangay Lilod in Marawi City at around 4:30 a.m.

He said the arrest was conducted after more than one month of intelligence gathering.

Venancio’s name appeared as one of those responsible not only for the simultaneous bombings that killed 12 people at a gas station, a passenger bus and a coach of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) on Dec. 30, 2000 in various parts of Metro Manila, but he was also implicated in the bombing of Davao City International Airport in 2003.

Superintendent Danilo Bacas, ARMM Region Operations chief, revealed that the arrest of Venancio dealt a serious blow to the ongoing training of rebels in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

“Venancio’s arrest is a big blow to the terror plan of the JI in Mindanao and a big setback for the terror groups operating in Mindanao,” said Bacas. “The arrested JI member was believed to be conducting terrorist training in the areas when arrested.”

Bacas said Venancio would be turned over to a local court in Davao Oriental.

“He will be subsequently presented to the Department of Justice in Manila for his case of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder filed in Manila for the Rizal Day bombings,” said Bacas.

ABDUL FATAK PAUTE

ANSAR BERNARDINO VENANCIO

AUTONOMOUS REGION

BACAS

BARANGAY LILOD

CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT BENSALI JABARANI

DAVAO CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

MARAWI CITY

METRO MANILA

RIZAL DAY

VENANCIO

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