Nine women accused of suspected suicide bomb plots

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (AP) – Philippine forces have arrested nine women who were related to Abu Sayyaf commanders and militants in the south and could have been “potential suicide bombers,” the military said yesterday.

The women were captured Friday in raids on houses in three towns in the predominantly Muslim province of Sulu, said Lt Gen Corleto Vinluan, Jr, who heads the military’s Western Mindanao Command.

The southern province is the stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, which is known for ransom kidnappings, beheadings and bombings.

Troops also seized bomb parts, including batteries, detonating cords, suspected explosive powder and oil, an iron pipe and nails, along with a grenade, cellphones, backpacks and a sketch of a suspected targetted bombing area, the military said in a statement.

“We are always ready to welcome those who wish to return to the folds of the law but if you will refuse to do so, we will surely hunt you down and prevent you from inflicting havoc in the communities,” said Maj Gen William Gonzales, who heads government forces in Sulu.

“May this serve as a clear message to the supporters and remaining members of the Abu Sayyaf,” Gonzales said.