MANILA: Government security forces foiled a bomb attack in Maguindanao province in volatile Mindanao which was blamed on a breakaway Moro rebel group, the military reported on Friday.
Colonel Prudencio Asto, the regional military spokesman, said soldiers recovered and defused two powerful improvised bombs planted in front of the main gate to the town hall of Sharif Aguak in Maguindanao.
The bombs, Asto said, were fashioned out from two 81-millimetre mortar shells attached to each of which were mobile phones to act as triggering devices.
“We suspect the targets were our troops conducting foot patrol in the area,” Asto said, adding the home-made bombs could have been planted by members of the breakaway rebel group known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM).
The BIFM is headed by Ameril Umbra Kato, a senior commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who broke away from the front due to major differences with other leaders in the conduct of the peace talks with the government.
However, Asto said another angle being investigated is the alleged involvement of a notorious criminal syndicate known as Al Khobar believed responsible for a series of extortion and kidnap-for-ransom cases in Mindanao.
On Oct.15 last year, the MILF signed in Malacanang Palace a historic framework agreement with the government described as a roadmap to the crafting of a treaty to bring lasting peace as well as end decades-long war and violence in troubled Southern Philippines.
Under the agreement, the government is to set up a new Bangsamoro political entity to be carved out of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), one of the country’s poorest.
Maguindanao where the bomb attack was foiled is a component province of ARMM along with Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sulu as well as Marawi City.
Police and the military have expressed grave concern over the increasing use and proliferation of home-made bombs in Mindanao by criminal groups and “rogue” members of the MILF.
On Dec.29, fifteen people were wounded when a bomb exploded at the rear portion of a passenger bus in the town of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat province while on its way from Maguindanao to General Santos City.