MANILA, While believing the blast in Lamitan, Basilan is the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana hinted that the bomb could have prematurely exploded near the military checkpoint that intercepted the van carrying the improvised explosive device (IED).
"It could be a bombing mission in Lamitan by the ASG but the bomb prematurely exploded at the military checkpoint. We are still getting more info," he said in a text message to reporters Wednesday night.
Earlier, the DND chief lauded the sacrifices made by military personnel, who were killed while preventing the van containing the IED from reaching its intended target in Lamitan City.
"It is important to note that the explosive did not reach its intended objective because of our alert security forces. Sadly, some of them paid the ultimate price for protecting our people. Our hearts reach out to all the loved ones they have left behind," he added.
Tuesday's IED blast resulted in the deaths of 10 people, including the driver of the van loaded with the bombs, while seven others were wounded.
The fatalities included a soldier, four militiamen and four civilians, who were militia dependents.
Earlier reports placed the number of dead at 11 but this was later updated to 10 by the military.
Initial reports said the van suddenly exploded while the troops were about to inspect it at a checkpoint in the boundaries of barangays (villages) Bulanting, Colonia and Maganda in Lamitan City.
Source: Philippine News Agency