MANILA Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has lauded the sacrifice made by military personnel, who died while preventing the van containing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from reaching its intended target in Lamitan City, Basilan on Tuesday.
"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," Lorenzana said in a statement Wednesday.
He also strongly condemned the bombing that resulted in the wounding of dozens of other military personnel and innocent civilians.
The defense chief also urged the public not to jump to any conclusion regarding the incident and just allow investigators to do their job.
"As we speak, there are several theories circulating regarding the circumstances surrounding the incident. Although we are not discounting them entirely, all of these are just pure speculation at this time and are now the subject of an investigation being conducted by a joint team of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police)," Lorenzana said.
"We will do everything within our power to get to the bottom of this incident and we will apply the full force of the law on the perpetrators. I assure the loved ones of those who perished that your government is grieving with you and that we will provide you with all the support that we can possibly give," he added.
Lorenzana also assured that efforts are underway to arrest the perpetrators of the attack and bring them to justice.
"Meanwhile, I would like to say to those who are behind this cowardly and indiscriminate act of violence that justice will catch up with you and it will come in the form that you least expect and at a time that you will not predict," he added.
The AFP said the IEDs were intended for targets in downtown Lamitan City, and that the botched attack was masterminded by veteran Abu Sayyaf leader, Furuji Indama.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, earlier said Indama's group is swiftly losing ground, that is why they are resorting to these desperate moves in order to disrupt the mass surrender of Abu Sayyaf members in Basilan and in Sulu."
Reports indicated that troops near the Magwakit Detachment in Barangay Colonia, Lamitan City intercepted a white van containing the IEDs at about 5:50 a.m. Tuesday.
The explosion occurred while the vehicle was being inspected, killing one soldier, five CAFGUs and four civilians - including the still unidentified driver, who was believed to be the bomber. Also wounded were one CAFGU and six members of the 9th Scout Ranger Company. CAFGU is the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency