CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao: Aside from bombings in various areas of Maguindanao province attributed to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the rogue rebel guerillas harassed government forces stationed in the borders of Pikit and Aleosan, also in North Cotabato Saturday morning.
Fighting between government forces and BIFF occurred in Barangay Bualan, Pikit, North Cotabato and in Sitio Tubak, Barangay Pagangan, Aleosan.
The two areas are situated in the tri-boundaries of Aleosan and Pikit in North Cotabato and in Datu Piang, Maguindanao where the BIFF was stationed.
About 100 families from the affected villages have fled to Panicupan, Pikit and in the center of Barangay Pagangan.
Moro residents were seen hauling their valuables and work animals along portions of the Cotabato-Davao highway which remained passable.
Meanwhile, government bomb experts found another improvised bomb in Upi, Maguindanao in an area where a home bomb went off Saturday morning, authorities said.
Mayor Ramon Piang Sr. of Upi town said the first blast occurred around 7:10 a.m. in an open field in Sitio Payong-Payong, Barangay Kebleg in Upi. It was fashioned from a 6-mm mortar with mobile phone as trigger mechanism.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Piang said, adding that the lone highway linking Cotabato City and Upi was closed to public transport beginning at 7:10 a.m. until past noon Saturday while investigation was on going.
While investigating, Army and Marine bomb experts found another IED about 10 meters away from the spot where the IED exploded earlier.
“Bomb experts found another IED at 10:30 a.m. in the same area where the first blast occurred,” Piang said. “Clearing operation is still on-going for there might be more IEDs in the area,” Piang said.
The second IED was detonated by Army and Marine bomb experts shortly before noon Saturday.
“Upi is a very peaceful area, we cannot understand why it will be targeted for bombings,” he said. “I appeal to our people to remain calm and vigilant.”
The Upi blast came hours after a 40-mm rifle grenade was fired from a distance toward a house of a militiaman in Kabacan, North Cotabato, leaving four persons wounded.
Senior Supt. Danny Peralta, North Cotabato police director, said the blast on Rizal Avenue, Kabacan on Friday night wounded Eddie Antolin, 49, a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), his son Exequiel, 9; and parents-in-law Benjamen Ferrer, 68 and his wife, Lucena, 66.
The bombing in Upi came after the rash of bombings in Mindanao which started in Cagayan de Oro on July 26 that left six dead and in Cotabato City on August 5, killing eight persons.
Authorities blamed the local terrorists trained by al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group. Intelligence agents said the JI had partnered with BIFF who set off two IEDs in Shariff Saydona Mustapha which hurt nine soldiers and on a bridge in Barangay Lintokan, Datu Piang, Maguindanao.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said suspected BIFF members also set off a powerful IED in front of a pawnshop in Midsayap, North Cotabato.