Monday, July 1, 2013

BIFF suspected to be behind Maguindanao blast

From the Philippine Star (Jul 1): BIFF suspected to be behind Maguindanao blast

Investigators are convinced Sunday’s roadside bombing in Sharif Aguak town in this province, which reportedly wounded two soldiers and a bystander, was perpetrated by the brigand Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The improvised explosive, planted at one side of a highway straddling through the town proper of Shariff Aguak, went off past 9:00 a.m. Sunday just as a convoy of soldiers led by Col. Noli Orense, commanding officer of the Army’s 603rd Brigade, was passing by, en route to the venue of the mass oath-taking of elected provincial and municipal officials in Buluan town, also in Maguindanao.

One of Orense’s subordinate-soldier Pfc. Reynaldo Sotto, and a still unidentified motorist, who was said to be an off duty member of the Philippine Marines, and a bystander were slightly wounded in the blast.

Orense said he is convinced that the blasting contraption of the explosive, triggered from a distance via mobile phone, could have malfunctioned since they were already past the spot where it was planted when it went off.

Investigators of the Shariff Aguak municipal police and an Army ordnance unit in the area said the home-made roadside bomb was fashioned from a live 105 Howitzer artillery round rigged with a battery-operated blasting mechanism attached to a mobile phone.

The bombing preceded another blast in a secluded spot also in Shariff Aguak about four hours later.

No one was reported killed or injured in the second bombing, but the incident triggered panic in the  area.

Military intelligence sources said feedback from confidential informants, among them Muslim clerics, claim that the outlawed BIFF could be responsible for the twin Shariff Aguak bombings.

The BIFF, founded in 2011 by a radical cleric, Ustadz Ameril Umrah Kato, has been on a rampage since last week for the military’s restoration of government control over its enclave at the border of President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat and Gen. SK Pendatun, Maguindanao.

Members of the group fired assault rifles and anti-tank rockets on two Army detachments in Midsayap, North Cotabato and set off improvised explosives as they escaped in simultaneous attacks just before the weekend.

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