MANILA: Philippine security forces were on alert Saturday (Aug 15) for possible reprisal attacks after arresting a key leader of an Islamic State-linked militant group accused of kidnapping and beheading several foreigners.
Abduljihad Susukan, a member of Abu Sayyaf, was detained in the southern city of Davao and flown to the capital Manila on Friday, where he was being held at the national police headquarters.
He has been charged with 23 murders, five kidnappings and six attempted murders, a police statement said.
Listed by the United States as a terrorist organisation, Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of militants blamed for the country's worst terror attacks as well as kidnappings of foreign tourists and Christian missionaries.
"The Philippine National Police along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines remain alert and vigilant to prevent and respond to any reprisal attack," police spokesman Brigadier-General Bernard Banac told AFP.
The Philippine military said Susukan was behind the April 2016 beheadings of Canadian tourists Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, after Manila and Ottawa rejected the kidnappers' ransom demands.
In 2017 Susukan's group also beheaded Jurgen Kantner, who was abducted from his yacht off the southern Philippines the previous year, said military spokesman Brigadier-General Edgard Arevalo.
"There is a strong possibility" that Susukan was also behind the 2015 beheading of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then, who was abducted in Malaysia's Sabah state, Arevalo told AFP.
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