An Islamic teacher believed to have direct knowledge of the car blast that killed 10 people Tuesday on the outskirts of Lamitan City was arrested by government troops two days after the attack.
Authorities also identified the owner of the 10-seater van loaded with explosive devices that went off at the Bulanting checkpoint outside of Lamitan City.
Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, identified the bombing suspect as Ustadz Jainul Maialim Indamin, 58, alias Abdulgani, a resident of Timbakan Barangay Maganda, Lamitan.
Besana said in the course of their investigations, Lt. Col. Montano Almodobar, commander of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion Company went to question Jainul but upon noticed a grenade in his possession.
He said Jainul also facilitated the entry of foreign terrorists from Malaysia.
The Municipal Police Station of Lamitan have filed multiple murder and multiple homicide cases, as well as illegal possession of explosives charges against Jainul.
The vehicle carrying the bombs, said to be intended for an attack in the heart of Lamitan City, was traced to a former barangay captain in the town of Jadji Mohamad Ajul in Basilan.
Chief Supt. Robert Fajardo, director of the Highway Patrol Group, said they will invite the owner of the 10-seater van to shed light on the bomb attack.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, spokesman of the AFP, blamed the Abu Sayyaf Group for the attack.
Alert levels have gone up after the attack.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., meanwhile, said the bomb attack was launched to threaten local government units to give in to Abu Sayyaf demands for P50,000 per LGU as protection.
“They [LGUs] have agreed that no one will give to the Abu Sayyaf,” he added.
He said there could have been more casualties had it not been for the vigilance of the troops manning the checkpoint.
Tuesday’s bomb explosion resulted in the death of 10 people, including the suspected bomb courier (not 11 as earlier reported), and seven others wounded. The fatalities included a soldier, four militiamen and four civilians, who were militia dependents.
Galvez said the most probable target of Tuesday’s bombing was the parade for the nutrition month culmination activity, which was participated in by more or less 4,000 children from the different schools in Lamitan City.
“They wanted to make a very strong statement and that is through the bombing [on Tuesday],” Galvez said.
He said improvised bombs were most likely fabricated by the Basilan-based ASG members.
Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, without revealing specific materials, said the bomb components used on Tuesday’s bombing “are readily available” locally.
Lamitan City Mayor Rosita Furigay has ordered the local police and called on military forces to further strengthen security in the city.
Furigay issued the order as she condemned Tuesday’s bomb explosion that she said, has “disrupted the peace and tranquility as well as tarnished the image of Lamitan City to the outside world.”
Furigay said the incident was “an act of terrorism” aimed to disturb the relatively peace and order situation, of Basilan in general and Lamitan City in particular.
“Their intention is to create havoc in the province,” she added.
In the wake of the attack, Clark International Airport Corp. also heightened its security measures.
CIAC president Alexander Cauguiran said enhanced Security Condition or SECO Level 2 is being implemented at the Clark International Airport and its premises following the bomb attack in Basilan.
‘Flight operations are not affected and the [security] enhancement is our proactive approach to ensuring public safety, “ Cauguiran said.
Metro Manila, too, has been put under heightened alert, the director of the National Capital Region police office said Thursday.
NCRPO Regional Director Police Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar said, however, that there was no imminent threat to Metro Manila. With PNA