TAGUM CITY— The breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters denied Thursday it was responsible for the bomb explosion in the public market in M’lang town on New Year’s Eve.
The explosion claimed the lives of two persons, and injured 36 others.
“We had no hand in the M’lang bombing. We only learned it when we heard it on radio reports,” said Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the outlawed BIFF, in a phone interview with DavaoToday on Thursday.
The police pointed at the BIFF for the deadly attack, suspecting that it was to retaliate for the arrest of suspected BIFF member Abdulazis Glang in M’lang town last December 30.
“The arrested suspect is a key BIFF leader whose arrest was considered a big blow to the separatist group,” said Chief Supt. Lester Camba, chief of the regional police told reporters.
But Mama said the BIFF “don’t attack civilians”, and blamed at the government military for crafting the improvised explosive device and exploded it at the crowded public market to pin the blame on the BIFF.
“It’s the handiwork of the military,” he said.
Maj. Joan Petinglay, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, on Thursday said that “we don’t have any information yet as to who is really behind the bombing incident.”
Petinglay quoted the M’lang Municipal administrator as saying that the bombing already claimed two victims. One of them was identified as Zenaida Suelo, 49, a resident of Barangay Malayan in M’lang. She was pronounced dead on Friday at the Cotabato Provincial Hospital.
Two of the injured victims, Candida Pante and Marilyn Salo, were in critical condition and were confined at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City and the Cotabato Provincial Hospital, Petinglay said.
Local officials condemned the incident as senseless and have extended assistance to all the victims.
North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, posted a message in her Facebook page that said “we have witnessed once again acts of barbarism aimed at disrupting our peace and order initiatives.”
“I am asking the officials of M’lang LGU [local government unit] to strengthen their resolve in protecting our people from further barbarism. This act has no place in a civilized society. I reiterate our firm stand against any form of violence on our people,” she added.
Mayor Joselito Piñol has maintained that the December 31 bombing was the handiwork of the BIFF and said investigation showed that the suspects were believed to be its new recruits.
“The five new BIFF recruits are also believed to be members of the extortion group Al Khobar which earlier sent extortion letters to M’lang businessmen,” said Piñol.
He added “the bombers are also believed to be products of a bomb-making school handled by Indonesian bomb makers who used to operate under the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).” (davaotoday.com)