MANILA (Mabuhay) – The military on Monday pointed to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as suspect in the bombing in Kabacan town in Cotabato Sunday night which killed a student and injured 16 other civilians.
“All fingers point to the BIFF. We are still confirming it … but tell-tale signs, yung mga nakitang ebidensiya, kagagawan ng BIFF,” Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the Philippine Army ‘s 6th Infantry Division, told reporters.
Hermoso said that based on their post-blast investigation, the kind of improvised explosive device (IED) used in the bombing was the same kind used by the BIFF in its previous attacks in Cotabato and other provinces in Mindanao.
“Yung signature ng bomba, IED…previous IEDs na gawa ng BIFF, so yun yun, yung mga incriminating (evidence),” Hermoso said.
He said that police and the military are now working together to determine the identities of the suspects.
Asked what could be the motive of the BIFF for the bombing, Hermoso said the group was trying to sabotage the ongoing peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the creation of the Bangsamoro Political Entity. The Bangsamoro Political Entity will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“Alam naman nating salungat ang grupong ito sa ongoing peace process natin sa MILF, sinasabotahe nila yung establishment ng Bangsamoro,” Hermoso said.
The BIFF is a breakaway group from the MILF.
Hermoso said the military strongly believes the BIFF has a link with the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, especially with Jemaah’s bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman.
“It’s confirmed na may link yung BIFF kay Basit Usman dahil noong nakaraang mga buwan ay na-engkuwentro namin itong si Basit Usman at kasama yung mga BIFF,” Hermoso said.
“Hindi naman matututo na gumawa itong local, itong terrorist group na BIFF, kung walang foreign-trained na bihasa sa paggawa ng IEDs,” he added.
Hermoso assured the public that authorities will continue to provide 24-hour security in Kabacan town. He, however, called on the residents to cooperate with authorities.
“The security sector is doing it’s job twenty-four-seven but hindi nila kaya na sila lang, kaya we need the people’s involvement, i-report lang yung mga conspicuous na mga bagay, mga suspicious-looking guys sa community at kami na po ang bahala, kami po dito ay tulung-tulong po lahat dahil terorista at criminal elements itong hinahabol natin,” Hermoso said.
An IED placed by the suspects at the entrance of Kabacan Pilot Elementary School exploded on Sunday night, leaving a student dead and 16 others injured. Two IEDs were also discovered at an overpass near the school but were defused by the Army’s 67th Infantry Batallion.(MNS)