PIKIT, North Cotabato: Lawless elements set off another improvised explosive device (IED) at a dirt road here in what police believed was intended for government forces.
Supt. Jordane Maribojo, Task Force Pikit, chief of Army-police composite unit, said the IED could be intended for police and military conducting checkpoints in Pikit’s crime prone areas.
The blast has caused panic among residents in populated areas where the bomb was set off by unidentified men.
Army intelligence operatives have been helping the local police in neutralizing lawless elements, according to Lt. Col. Audie Edralin, commanding officer of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion.
“We are helping the police identify the perpetrators as we expect similar attacks in the future,” he said.
Citing police intelligence reports, Maribojo said the bomb could also be intended for the town’s public terminal but those responsible in transporting the IED decided to leave it somewhere due to police presence in the public market.
Members of the 34th Explosive and Ordnance unit of 7th IB recovered fragments of 81 mm mortar and mobile phones, including shrapnel made of concrete nails.
“Our vigilance forced these lawless elements to abort their ill motives, fortunately nobody was hurt in the blast,” Edralin told reporters.
Maribojo believed the bombing was in retaliation for the death of two wanted persons of Pikit believed to be responsible in the series of highway robbery hold-up, shooting and other heinous crimes.
Army and police intelligence said the “signatures” of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) which is opposed to Malacanang’s peace overtures in southern Philippines.
Capt. Joanne Petinglay, chief of the 6th Infantry Division public affairs unit, said the bombing in Pikit was part of retaliatory attacks by BIFF after the fall of its major camp in the borders of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.
Before the Pikit bombing, police authorities in nearby Midsayap, North Cotabato also foiled an attempt by suspected BIFF to set off a bomb in Barangay Poblacion 7.
Midsayap is set to celebrate its patronal fiesta of Sto. Nino on Saturday.
Police recovered Monday an 81 mm mortar and bomb components yet to be composed into an improvised bomb in an abandoned lot in Poblacion 7. The suspects were gone when police arrived in response to calls from alert civilians in Midsayap town.
Supt. Reynante Delos Santos, chief of the Midsayap municipal police, lauded the civilians for quickly alerting the police about presence of suspicious men in the village which foiled the bombing attempt.
Senior Supt. Danilo Peralta, North Cotabato police chief, said police and other peacekeepers in the province have been on alert since late December after a bomb went off at Mlang public market that left two dead and 33 others wounded. PNA