It is highly possible that the Maute Group and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which is now the object of focused military operations in Mindanao, could have conducted the improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Hilongos town, Leyte as means to ease the pressure against them.
This was disclosed by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the sidelights of Friday's Rizal Day celebrations.
The IED attack in Hilongos town wounded 32 persons, 16 of them severely.
"(It's possible that the IED attack was) done as a diversionary tactic to ease the pressure against them," said Lorenzana in Filipino.
Lorenzana said that they have been suspecting for a long-time that the Maute Group and BIFF have formed a tactical alliance of sort to facilitate the transfer of IED technology.
The DND chief added that they are looking into this angle as fragments of an 81mm mortar round was recovered in the blast scene.
IEDs converted from 81mm rounds are the trademark of the BIFF.
"It's not far-fetched as (Lanao Del Sur is the operating area of) Maute Group and (Maguindanao areas) of the BIFF are near each other. There are also Maute Group members living in Maguindanao and that could be their connection," he stressed.
In line with this threat, the DND chief urged the public to be more vigilant as these lawless groups can create trouble anywhere in the Philippines.
"They can travel (anywhere), let us always be careful, vigilant and observant of what is happening in our surroundings," he added.
Source: Philippines News Agency