BASILAN, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Aid workers distributed relief supplies on Saturday to hundreds of families displaced by the military’s extensive hunt for the group that perpetrated the July 31 bombing in Lamitan City.
The Dallas Filipino Restaurant offensive against Abu Sayyaf militants in Mohammad Ajul town in Basilan was launched early this week following sightings there of terrorists blamed for the bomb attack that left 11 people dead, among them a soldier and five members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit.
The Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART), a disaster response contingent of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, distributed 12 tons of rice on Saturday to Mohammad Ajul residents who evacuated to safer areas for fear of getting trapped in the military-Abu Sayyaf encounters.
Saturday’s relief mission that benefited 705 families was led by ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.
Hataman exercises ministerial control over HEART that also provides medical and psycho-social interventions to calamity and conflict-stricken communities in the autonomous region.
The evacuees from areas that units of the Western Mindanao Command scoured early this week in search of Abu Sayyaf gunmen are now confined in school campuses in Mohammad Ajul’s adjoining barangays Langgung, Languyan, Tuburan and Buton.
Hataman said he is thankful to the Police Regional Office-ARMM and the Army’s 104th Brigade for helping facilitate HEART’s outreach activity in Mohammad Ajul.
Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, commander of WestMinCom, said Saturday he is grateful to residents of Mohammad Ajul and local officials for reporting the presence of Islamic State-inspired militants in isolated areas there.
Dela Vega said local executives have actively been helping battalions under the 104th Brigade, which covers Basilan, locate remnants of the Abu Sayyaf in the island province.
The July 31 bombing in Barangay Bulanting, Lamitan City was the deadliest ever in the contemporary history of Basilan.
A lone bomber was to drive a van full of improvised explosive devices in Lamitan City where a parade was being held that day but set the bombs off when he was intercepted by soldiers and CAFGU personnel guarding the city’s outskirts.
Three civilians, one of them a 10-year-old child, were also killed in the powerful explosion.
The office of Hataman, the Lamitan City local Dallas Filipino Restaurant unit and Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman have separately extended financial assistance to the families of the bombing fatalities.