Philippine Marine troops have intercepted a shipment of bomb-making components at the Sulu Sea, military officials said Friday.
Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesperson, Col. Gerry Besana, said the shipment was intercepted off Simusa Island, Baguingui, Sulu at about 5:45 p.m. Thursday.
Besana said the Marines’ 83rd and 84th Inshore Boat Companies were on seaborne patrol when they chanced upon a motorboat with four people on board.
He said the motorboat was found to be loaded with 38 sacks of ammonium nitrate when the troops inspected the watercraft.
The ammonium nitrate is being used by lawless elements, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), to assemble improvised bombs, although it is predominantly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Besana said the ammonium nitrate from Laminusa Island in the town of Siasi, Sulu and was en route to Basilan province when intercepted by the troops.
He said the four people aboard the motorboat — whose names were withheld — were turned over to Col. Armel Tolato, commander of the Philippine Marine Ready Force – Sulu.
The four were placed under custodial debriefing at the tactical command post of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 and will be turned over to the Banguingui municipal police for disposition and filing of appropriate charges.
Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Westmincom chief, said the shipment of bomb-making component came after the Navy and Marine troops boosted their maritime patrols to secure the waters of Western Mindanao.
“Sailors and Marines operate in maritime areas of Western Mindanao to curb smuggling and other illegal activities that affect the security and development in Mindanao,” dela Vega added.