BULUAN, Maguindanao: Bomb experts safely defused on Friday morning here a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) near the gate of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) compound, a few kilometers away from a civilian celebration of the local Sagayan Festival.
Colonel Ricky Bunayog, 33rd Infantry battalion commander, said the IED was made using an 81mm mortar shell to contain the explosives, with an alarm clock serving as a trigger device.
Bunayog said the bomb bore the signature of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who are the subject of a military operation in nearby Datu Salibo town, about 30 kilometers west of Buluan.
He said he believes the IED was meant to disrupt the ongoing 5th annual Sagayan Festival where the Maguindanaons celebrate their blessings.
Police Senior Insp. Gani Miro, Buluan chief of police, said they were alerted by civilians about the suspicious black bag abandoned outside the PDRRMC office in Poblacion.
Bomb experts from Tacurong City-based Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion managed to defuse the powerful IED at about 8:40 a.m.
Miro said government agents are still investigating the motive and identity of those responsible for placing the IED in the area.
Meanwhile, Governor Esmael Mangudadatu condemned the bombing attempt and immediately ordered tighter security in the entire province. He also called on everyone to be vigilant and all security forces to stay on alert.
Lynette Estandarte, one of the key festival facilitators, said all activities scheduled for Friday resumed after a two-hour delay.
Friday’s events included various competitions and the coronation of the winner of a beauty contest. The festivities will end on Sunday.
JULMINIR I. JANNARAL AND Moh Saaduddin