Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Military on alert for BIFF bombings

From the Manila Standard Today (Mar 4): Military on alert for BIFF bombings

THE military has raised a bomb alert after it foiled two attempts by suspected terrorists to blow up targets in Mindanao, barely three days after an explosion narrowly missed a Catholic Church and an elementary school in Lamitan City.

The spate of bomb attacks comes amid a military offensive against terrorists in Maguindanao, Sulu and Basilan.

In Lamitan City, Army troopers engaged five Abu Sayyaf bandits in a five-minute firefight. The fleeing terrorists left behind am M61 hand grenade and bomb components, said Armed Forces public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc.

“We have foiled another bombing attempt. This is the same group that was behind the bombing in Basilan last week,” Cabunoc said.

He was the bomb attacks are aimed at diverting the ongoing military offensive against terrorists in Sulu and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao.

The second bombing attempt was at Sitio Lotte in Barangay Kayaga , Kabacan town, where a concerned citizen reported seeing a concealed IED beside the Simuay Hardware.

Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the bomb was the handiwork of BIFF rebels.

On Sunday, an improvised bomb exploded near Saint Peter Church and the central elementary school in Lamitan at about 9:25 p.m. No casualties were reported.

Capt. Geralfredo Andal said the Lamitan bomb attempt was foiled because the military received prompt intelligence.

Andal said they received intelligence report about the presence of four bandits as early as 6 p.m. Monday and they immediately sent out teams to locate them.

Not long after, the troops were able to locate the hideout of the bandits and a firefight ensued, he said.

The Moro National Libertion Front (MNLF) on Tuesday said BIFF fighters on the run from the military offensive were taking refuge in an MILF camp.

“The military could not find the BIFF rebels because they mingled with the MILF in Maguindanao,” said MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza.

“The BIFF camps are now empty,” Cerveza said, adding that it would be futile for the military to try to find the rebels.

At least nine BIFF rebels were killed last Saturday’s fighting.

Cerveza refused to say which MILF commanders were coddling the BIFF rebels, however.

Cabunoc acknowledged that the BIFF rebels might have mingled with the MILF to evade the military offensive in Central Midnanao.

This made the ongoing operations challenging, he added.

But he said the Armed Forces is coordinating with local officials and the MILF to identify the BIFF members.

He added that the MILF is committed to helping the government in the undertaking.

He said reports said truckloads of MILF warriors were seen passing through military checkpoints, moving out of their camps to give way to the all-out war against the fleeing BIFF rebels.


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