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MILF refutes Arab news claim regarding Lamitan bombing

COTABATO CITY – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front leadership has vehemently refuted a recent overseas news report, which claimed that the MILF had pointed to a foreign national of German-Arab extraction as behind the July 31 suicide bombing in Basilan that killed at least 11 people, including government forces, a mother and her child.

“It must be false news (because) we have not made any report about the incident,” MILF First Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar said Friday during a phone interview.

Jaafar was referring to a report published on August 3 in the Philippine section of the Dubai-based Gulf News gulfnews.com written by a Filipino correspondent identified as Gilbert Felongco citing the MILF as saying in its official luwaran.com website on Aug. 2 that a foreigner of German-Arab extraction was behind in the Lamitan City bombing.

Jaafar said the MILF might have initiated its own investigation on the suicide bombing in Lamitan City but such could still be in progress and no result had been publicized.

“We’re completely surprised about it,” Jaafar said.

Verifications showed the MILF official website carried no such report.

The media, local and international, should observe responsible journalism especially in attributing reports to one or more organizations involved in collective efforts to finally bring peace and development in Mindanao, Jaafar said.

Jaafar headed the 24-member commission that had earlier crafted what the Philippine Congress eventually passed lately as Bangsamoro Organic Law aimed at ending decades of Moro rebellion in Southern Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State (IS) jihadi group has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed 11 people in Lamitan City, Basilan province, but the military quickly dismissed the claim as propaganda and instead blamed the local bandit group Abu Sayyaf.

Hours after the Jul 31 bombing that killed a soldier, five government militiamen and four civilians, including a mother and her child, and the suspected bomber himself, the IS Amaq news Agency admitted that IS was responsible for the attack.

The Amaq report said the “martyr” bomber was a Moroccan named “Abu Kathir,” and even posted his photo. The US Site Intelligence Group (SIG) tracking online jihadi organizations’ activities confirmed the report.

But Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., who visited Zamboanga City on Wednesday, dismissed the claim. (Ali G. Macabalang)

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