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MILF eyed in Sultan Kudarat explosion

TWO people were wounded after a bomb planted in a private vehicle in Sultan Kudarat went off, in an attack that appeared to be carried out by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in response to the failure of Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The blast came as the military deployed more ground troops in several areas of Mindanao, particularly Sulu, in preparation for any eventualities after the BBL—the lynchpin in the government’s peace pact with the MILF—failed to win passage in Congress.

A security expert said he had received reliable reports that the MILF was preparing for a possible all-out war against government forces.

“The MILF faction led by Abdullah Macapaar alias Commander Bravo, who had an autonomous leadership within the MILF, was monitored to be preparing extensively and massing up,” the security expert, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

Members of the group 1Bangsa and other Moro chieftains express dismay over Congress’ failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law during a media forum in Quezon City on Monday. Jansen Romero
The bombing, he said could be the start of a bigger series of actions that could affect the peace and order situation in the region.

“Because of the non-passage of the BBL, there will be a renewed tension in the region,” he said.

MILF chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim and chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, along with the head of the government’s negotiating panel, had earlier said that the failure to pass the BBL would change the peace and order landscape in Mindanao.

The bomb went off in a vacant lot near Jose Abad Santos Street in Barangay Poblacion, Tacurong City, wounding three bystanders, days after reports that the MILF have started to mass up in Central Mindanao.

Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, public affairs officer of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the explosive device packed with concrete nails and metal fragments was placed in the bumper of a black Toyota car.

The wounded were identified as Freddie Tumindig, 42; Patrick Pepito; and Cicole Fobar, 19, who were brought to Quijano and Sandig Hospital for treatment.

Military and police teams were investigating the incident.

Commander Bravo has been blamed for the series of attacks in Lanao province after the Supreme Court rejected the passage of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain during the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2008.

However, Bravo supported the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the MILF on Oct. 12, 2012.

“It is Bravo who initiated the series of attacks in Lanao province and in Cagayan de Oro City after the scrapping of MOA-AD and it’s highly possible that Bravo may be taking the initiative again,” the security expert said, adding that the MILF leadership could not control the actions of Bravo.

He said the presence of five Indonesian jihadists in Lanao province could aggravate the situation, since some of Bravo’s fighters have links with jihadist groups.

An additional Marine battalion was mobilized in Sulu as part of the government’s bigger preparations for possible flare-ups after the BBL’s collapse.

Five Army battalions including elite forces from the Special Operations Command and three Marine battalions are currently deployed to go after an estimated 200 fighters of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.

A member of the 1st  Special Forces Battalion was killed when armed men ambushed a group of soldiers in Barangay Anoling, Patikul, Sulu  on Tuesday.

Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said the soldiers who were in civilian clothes conducting an intelligence operation when fired upon by suspected terrorists.

Tan said the soldiers fought back but one of them died during the firefight and the outnumbered troopers were saved by a convoy of tanks.

Earlier, military chief Gen. Hernando Irriberi urged the operational and ground commanders having jurisdiction in Sulu and Basilan to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf before President Benigno Aquino’s term ends.

Irriberi is set to reach his mandatory retirement age of 56 in April. The military estimates some 200 Abu Sayyaf operating in Basilan.

They are said to be holding 10 civilians—including foreigners—hostage.

 

Topics: BBL
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