The al-qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf group has stepped up its extortion activities and have resorted to bomb attacks if demands are ignored in the island province of Basilan.
Isabela City police said that Abu Sayyaf bombers exploded two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) outside the staff house of an oil mill at dawn Friday and at the gate of the residence of Basilan’s district engineer Wednesday night.
No one was hurt in the two bomb attacks. A third bomb plot was foiled by security forces also at dawn Friday.
In both cases, police said, investigators have gathered that the targets of the bombing had received extortion letter and text message from Abu Sayyaf extortionists.
District Engineer Soler Undog told police that days before the attack outside his residence, he had received an extortion letter from an Abu Sayyaf commander who demanded P200,000.
Undog said he ignored the letter and two days later the bomb exploded outside his home.
Gaspar Katipunan, branch manager of Cargill oil mill, also told police investigators that he has received a text message from Abu Sayyaf commander Moton Indama on September 19 demanding P50,000.
Katipunan said he also ignored the text message.
The explosion outside Undog’s residence caused minor damage to the concrete fence, steel gate and his Toyota van.
Police said investigation showed that a man alighted from a green Toyota Hi-Lux and left a bag outside the Cargill staff house. He ran away when he was spotted by the firm’s security guard.
Recovered at the scene of explosion were IED components like a 9-volt battery, shattered cellular phone, an exploded 60 mm mortar shell and wirings.
The third bomb attempt was foiled after Army Special Forces on patrol spotted the bomber carrying a suspicious bag near a cemetery in Barangay La Piedad.
POlice said the man dropped the bag and ran towards the interior of the cemetery after he saw the army special forces who fired warning shots.
Army K-9 team with sniffer dogs checked on the bag which contained an IED. Using a a hydrajet disruptor, it was disarmed. The disrupted IED was made up of three 60mm mortar shells, cellular phone, 9-volt battery, three improvised detonators and wirings.
Police suspect the foiled bomb attack was intended for Caltex Depot in Isabela City.