DAVAO CITY: Philippine army officials have reported four separate explosions that left one person wounded in Maguindanao in the restive Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.
Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the 6th Infantry Division, said two grenades fired from a launcher exploded outside the provincial capitol building late on Saturday.
She said there were no reports of casualties from that attack, but a second wave of bombing injured a civilian in Cotabato City after two motorcycle men lobbed an improvised explosive at an army truck patrolling the area.
The attack came after the same men exploded a grenade outside the police station in Maguindanao’s Datu Odin Sinsuat town. Another attack, Petinglay said, targeted an army post also in Cotabato City.
“We have tightened security in those areas following the series of explosions and we are working closely with the police authorities,” she told The Manila Times.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the daring raids, but the attacks sent a chilling warning to authorities that terrorism remains the biggest threat to security and civilians in the troubled region.
The motive of the attacks is still unknown; however the violence occurred in the middle of a hot debate in Congress whether to strike out several provisions in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that would give Muslims in the South wider autonomy.
Lawmakers insist the provisions were unconstitutional and among these would give the Muslims far reaching power over security and natural resources that some politicians fear would affect their interests and businesses in the autonomous region.
The rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has signed a peace deal with Manila and a commission set up by the government composed of Muslim, Christian and representatives from the tribal communities crafted the proposed law, but eventually had been watered down by the Aquino government before it was submitted to Congress for approval.
Security officials would not say if the attacks were connected to the BBL, but many Muslims were disgruntled by way how Christian legislators were addressing the issue, and the MILF has repeatedly warned that any delay in the passage of the law could trigger unrest and even war in Mindanao.
Suspected jihadist killed
Meanwhile on Friday morning, an army officer neutralized one suspected jihadist in Indanan town of Sulu, when the suspect “armed with knife” approached the guarding officer and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” the authorities said.
Col. Allan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, told The Times in a telephone interview the suspect tried to disarm Sgt. Rodolfo Nieves, who was on duty at the camp of 5th Civil Military Operation Battalion in Barangay Tagbak.
He said the suspect tried but failed to grab the M16 rifle of the guarding officer, which prompted the officer shoot the suspected jihadist who shouted “Allahu Akbar” or God is great.
The case was already referred to the Indanan police for further investigation.
Sources from Indanan police identified the suspect as Samit Hadjili, 23-years-old, single, jobless and resident of Barangay Kajatian of Indanan town.
WITH REPORT FROM MOH SAADUDDIN