Troops foil bomb attempt in Basilan

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Security forces have disarmed an improvised explosive device (IED) left at a gas station in Isabela City, the capital of Basilan province, officials said on Wednesday.

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Insp. Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesman, said two masked men on a motorcycle left a plastic bag containing the explosive at the ASL gasoline station. He said the explosive, whose ingredient was mostly ammonium nitrate, and wired to a blasting cap and cell phone as triggering device, was inside a cooking pot when recovered by members of the local bomb squad late Monday.

“Post-blast investigation revealed that the IED was placed by two suspicious persons riding on red motorcycle—one wearing a bonnet and the other had a handkerchief covering his face— and they immediately fled,” Samuddin said. “The explosive was successfully disarmed and there is no reported damage to properties. Investigation is still going on.”

The foiled bombing happened a day after the Western Mindanao Command here said troops assaulted an Abu Sayyaf bomb factory in Tipo-Tipo town where security forces are pursuing militants headed by Puruji Indama.

Military spokeswoman Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela also tagged Indama as behind the twin bombings in Zamboanga City recently.

“The main intent of the operation is to allay the fears of the civilians and local officials in view of the series of atrocities, kidnapping and extortion committed by the group of Indama,” Muyuela said. “This operation also shows the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police’s commitment to the people of Basilan to have lasting peace and development to this island province.”

She did not say if there were Abu Sayyaf casualties in the assault.

Security forces in Basilan also heightened their patrol following the foiled bombing. Police and military have earlier tightened security in Zamboanga City following the two bomb explosions at the Deluxe Massage and Karaoke Bar at Tomas Claudio Street that injured police bomb squad member PO2 Manuel Franklin Ined Sr.

Police has released the facial composite of the alleged bomber based on the description of several witnesses. The mayor of Zamboanga, Maria Isabelle Salazar, offered a P50,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to the apprehension of the bomber.

Last month, a police bomb squad also disarmed a home-made bomb at the Plaza Pershing also in downtown Zamboanga. The explosive was hidden in a thermos that contained nails and ammonium nitrate, a banned chemical fertilizer widely used by rebels in the manufacture of homemade bombs. Several bomb explosions were also reported in Isabela City with one police report saying the bombers escaped on a pick-up truck.

The Abu Sayyaf, blamed by authorities for the spate of bombings and killings in the southern Philippines, has recently pledged allegiance to the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

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