SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: The Philippine National Police (PNP) backed by civilians on Wednesday night foiled a bombing attempt during the culmination of the Kalimudan Festival or gathering of people for thanksgiving in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.
Senior Supt. Raul Supiter, Sultan Kudarat police provincial director, said their assets discovered what they suspected was a bomb left at a roadside in Barangay Kalawag in Isulan and tipped off the PNP, whose bomb experts immediately defused it at past 9:30 p.m.
The powerful improvised explosive device (IED) made from black powder, cut nails and metal sheets with a torch as triggering device was placed in the middle of parked vehicles near the main entrance of the Sultan Kudarat provincial capitol grounds, where a street dancing competition was being held.
Supiter said the IED could blow up a car and could scatter its metal shrapnel to as far as 500 meters away had it exploded.
The 33rd Infantry Battalion immediately deployed more soldiers to strategic areas in the province since the celebration will run until December.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) operatives said they have overrun rebel camps belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after surgical air strikes in North Cotabato.
Capt. Arvin John Encinas, spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division in Camp Siongco, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, said the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade discovered the two camps of the BIFF in the villages of Tonganon in Aleosan and Bentangan in Carmen, North Cotabato.
He added that the terrorists, led by Esmael Abdulmalik alias Commander Abu Torayfe, abandoned the camps after artillery and aerial bombardment.
Encinas, however, could not say if there were casualties from the terrorist group during the surgical operations.
“We have reports about it but we cannot confirm since there was no body count,” Encinas said.
The camps, he added, can accommodate about 100 persons at a given time.
It has several nipa huts, running trenches and caves.
He could not say the exact location of the bandits after they abandoned their camps adding that the AFP is closely monitoring their movements.
Earlier, Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, chief of the 6th ID civil military operations, said intelligence information showed Torayfe’s group was coddling several foreign- looking terrorists.
The group left the adjoining municipalities of Datu Salibo, Shariff Saydona, Shariff Aguak and Mamasapano in Maguindanao because of heavy military operations launched last month.
The Army with the backing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is hunting down the BIFF.
Last week, Torayfe’s group moved to the borders of Carmen and Aleosan town and Army intelligence backed by MILF information pinpointed their presence.
Air strikes were then launched.
Disaster officials said the more than 200 families displaced by Army offensives in North Cotabato have started returning home.