Bomb expert hurt as Army foils bombing attempts in Maguindanao

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CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – A military bomb disposal expert was slightly injured when an improvised bomb he was deactivating went off Sunday morning.

The accidental blast came hours after military bomb experts discovered several improvised bombs planted by IS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, where a brief encounter between the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion (MIB) and the BIFF also transpired.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, declined to identify the injured member of Army Explosive and Ordnance Disposal Unit for security reasons but said the personnel “is now out of danger.”

Encinas said 57th Infantry Battalion personnel discovered a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) in Barangay Kuloy, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao and were trying to deactivate the ordnance when it went off at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. It was the third IED that military bomb disposal experts tried to deactivate Sunday. Two other IEDs were defused earlier, also in Shariff Aguak.

Also on Sunday, elements of the 2nd MIB recovered high-powered firearms and medical supplies in a safe house used by the BIFF under Ismael Abubakar alias “Imam Bungos” in Barangay Malangog, Datu Unsay, Maguindanao.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Army’s 6th Infantry Division chief, said Malangog villagers alerted the Army about the presence of the BIFF in their area around 2 p.m. After a brief clash, the rebels fled toward the marshland.

At a rice field near the alleged BIFF safe house owned by local farmer Khadafy Abdulatif, the state forces recovered 20 assorted mortar rounds, 10 improvised blasting caps, a. 50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle, one M16 rifle, one M14 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, two improvised explosive devices (hand grenade-type), three sacks of IED components, detonating cords, an ICOM antenna, assorted magazines and ammunitions, medical supplies like syringes, and other war material.

Sobejana lauded the civilians for quickly alerting the military about the presence of the BIFF in their village.

“We are very grateful for the trust and support you have shown your AFP, which boosted our morale and inspired us more to be of service to the people of Central Mindanao,” he said.

Sunday’s incident was preceded by a grenade attack carried out by suspected BIFF militants on a roadside detachment of the Army’s 57th IB in Barangay Labu-Labu, Shariff Aguak.

Around 7 p.m. Saturday, two men onboard a motorbike and believed to be BIFF members tossed two hand grenades towards the detachment. No soldier was hurt in the blasts, but a passerby identified as Nasser Kusain, 19, was hurt.

“Violent extremism and terrorism have no place in Central Mindanao. We condemn in strongest term the criminal and barbaric acts of these local terrorist groups,” Sobejana said. –PNA

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