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AFP tags BIFF in deadly S. Kudarat bombing

 

By FRANCIS WAKEFIELD

 

THE Army’s 6th Infantry Division Wednesday said that members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were behind the deadly blast in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, that left two people, including a seven-year-old girl, dead and 34 others wounded.

In an interview, Capt. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said that based on their initial investigation the BIFF perpetrated the bombing as part of their retaliatory attacks in response to the all-out offensive launched by the military against them.

Encinas said the BIFF took advantage of the ongoing festival taking place in Isulan town which is currently celebrating the 7th Hamungaya Festival as part of the 61st founding anniversary of the town.

“During that time at around 8:30 in the evening while our troops were conducting mobile patrol they accosted two suspicious individuals who left a bag in front of an establishment (H and J Marketing). After being accosted, they hurriedly left with the bomb suddenly exploding, wounding and killing people,” he added.

Encinas said fortunately, a KM450 military truck was nearby and managed to block the shrapnels from the IED that exploded.

“Kung wala ‘yung military truck baka mas mahigit pa sa 36 o dalawang patay ‘yung naging biktima,” Encinas said.

He said two soldiers and a Civilian Armed Auxilliary (CAA) member were among those wounded in the explosion.

“Sa national highway kasi ito. Tamang-tama na pagkadaan ng military truck natin saka sumabog kaya most probably command detonated itong IED na ito dahil tinaon nila na dadaan na iyung military truck natin,” he said.

“Like I said, their primary target is our security forces in the area conducting security measures,” he said.

Encinas said the IED used in the blast could have been made from an 81mm mortar.

Meantime, A local terror group has claimed responsibility on the bomb attack which Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) declined to disclose to name.

“We believe it was a terror attack although it is still being investigated. With that magnitude, it is certainly not accidental,” said Albayalde.

“A group has already claimed responsibility and this is not a new group. This is one of the groups that we have been monitoring especially in the part of Mindanao,” he added.

Albayalde said that prior to the bombing, the intelligence community has been receiving reports of possible bomb attack but the details were not specific.

Nevertheless, he said security officials have implemented necessary security measures in order to foil any planned attack by local terror groups.

In fact, he said the festival site where the bomb attack occurred was full of security forces as part of the target-hardening measures on possible bombing targets.

“Kahit siguro ano pang pag-implement ng target-hardening measures nila, nalusutan pa rin dahil pag mga ganyan kapag talagang desidido ang isang criminal groups, talagang gagawa sila ng paraan,” said Albayalde.

Initial reports revealed that the bomb was stuffed inside a backpack believed to have been carried by someone who even offered a group of militiaman with fruits.

Civilians then sought the assistance of the present security forces about the bag which was found abandoned later. It was that time that the bomb exploded. (With a report from Aaron Recuenco)

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