1 dead, 14 injured
AN improvised explosion device (IED) planted by alleged elements of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) exploded in front of a public school in Kabacan, North Cotabato, leaving one dead and 14 other innocent civilians, mostly in their teens, wounded.
Colonel Dickson Hermoso, spokesman, 6th Infantry Division, said on Monday the bomb exploded at the entrance of the Kabacan Pilot Elementary School on Sunday, adding that a total of three IEDs were actually planted but the two others were successfully defused by the explosive and ordnance division of the 67th Infantry Battalion.
“One exploded at the entrance of the Kabacan Pilot Elementary School, while the other two were placed at the upward and downward staircases of the Kabacan overpass,” he said.
The fatality was identified as Monique Mantawil. Wounded were Samra Sembaga, Hartzel Bragat, Tonton Kusain, Flo Rohana, Gerlie Royles, Rowena Nulfies, Albert Palakpak, Ritchie Baguio, Queen Mary Alihuhanid, Mohamid Masuka, Ibrahim Bantulan, Arvie Estrella and two unidentified victims.
Hermoso explained that even as the military was on constant alert, the Muslim rebel group still managed to pull off a bombing because the area was simply too big for government security forces to cover.
According to Hermoso, most of the communities being targeted by the bandits were those from the fringes of Liguasan Marsh, because of their proximity to the BIFF base in the first district of Maguindanao, which is just across the Mindanao River.
Hermoso said the military needs the involvement and support of the people to be more effective in its fight against the BIFF
According to Hermoso, international terrorist Basit Usman of Jemaah Islamiyah has been training the BIFF on the bomb making.
Usman, he added, was with the BIFF in an encounter last month with government forces.
Last September, the BIFFs also triggered the explosion of an IED in General Santos City that left six civilians injured and caused damaged to properties.
A similar bombing incident also happened in Cotabato City last month which left a soldier and three civilians wounded.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao spokesman Captain Alberto Caber said that as indicated in an intelligence report, Usman’s group was also behind the incident and that of an earlier car-bomb explosion in Kidapawan town.
“Basit Usman is foreign-trained. He is a Filiipino JI [Jemaah Islamiyah] and we can say that he has a higher level of expertise compared to others when it comes to the use and manufacture of IEDs,” Caber pointed out.
Usman’s group is also being linked in other bombing incidents in Mindanao, including the firing of a rifle-propelled grenade in a restaurant in Cotabato City on the eve of the celebration of Ramadan in 2013 that left one person dead and three others injured.