MANILAThe Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has tagged the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the improvised explosive device (IED) attack that killed two persons and wounded 37 others in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat Tuesday night.
"We believe that the terrorist group BIFF is the primary suspect behind this atrocity. They are the only ones who have the strongest evil desire to initiate this kind of attack that victimizes innocent civilians and disrupt peace," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said in a press briefing Wednesday.
He is basing this on the pattern and prior intelligence reports that claimed the terrorists will conduct bombing attacks in the general area of Isulan.
"That they are going to conduct bombings in the general area. Actually general area lang ang mga intelligence reports natin. So that is why we are on the alert. Kaya nga may natamaan siya na isang (That is why it hit a) KM-450 truck na nasa (which is in the) vicinity doing mobile patrol pero hindi na-wounded yung mga sundalong sakay dahil merong blast protection yung KM-450 (but the soldiers aboard the KM-450 were not wounded because it has blast protection)," Detoyato emphasized.
The AFP official added that Tuesday's blast is the third for Isulan, adding that the security forces have previously intercepted two attempts, due to timely warning by informants and civilians.
When asked why Isulan is constantly targeted by the terrorists, Detoyato said it is because of the economic improvements in the area.
"Historical kasi yan (That is historical). Isulan, historically, palagi nilang tina-target (has become their target) because of the economic improvement. (Also, it is) mostly populated by non-Muslim believers. So nilalagyan nila ng anggulo ng (They are inserting an angle) of religion that is why Isulan (ang) tina-target nila (they target Isulan)," he added.
The AFP public affairs office chief declined to give the names of the possible masterminds as operations are still ongoing.
"Right now, we have no particular names na ire-release (to release), di ba meron tayong ongoing (operations) laban sa kanila? (Don't we have ongoing operations against them?)," he added.
Also, the IED composition is still undergoing investigation to determine its exact component, Detoyato stressed.
The AFP official also scored the BIFF for targeting civilians in the Isulan attack.
"Kung may tunay silang pinaglalaban (If they are really fighting for something valuable), why victimize civilians? If they are true warriors, come out and face the Armed Forces," Detoyato said.
He added that they are now coordinating with the Philippine National Police in Sultan Kudarat regarding the investigation.
"The AFP will continue to support the local government of Isulan in its security operations in the area to ensure the safety and security of our citizens and maintain peace especially during public activities and celebrations," Detoyato said.
In the wake of the IED attack, the AFP official urged all peace-loving citizens in Sultan Kudarat to be vigilant and report to authorities any suspicious individuals or packages to prevent a similar incident from happening.
"Your utmost cooperation is an added strength to our police and soldiers designated to facilitate the security of Isulan and the province of Sultan Kudarat," Detoyato added. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency