Twin blasts rock N. Cotabato towns

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

KIDAPAWAN CITY - Two loud explosions rocked towns of Kabacan and M’lang in North Cotabato a few hours after the Armed Forces of the Philippines declared "normalcy" in areas where fighting between the government troops and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) took place.

The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is negotiating for a peace accord with Philippine government.

The BIFF was established in 2010 by former MILF commander Ameril Umbra Kato who bolted out of the group due to ideological difference with top MILF officials.


Around 8:15 p.m. on Friday, a grenade fired from an M203 launcher exploded on top of an Internet shop along Quezon Avenue in Kabacan town.

Kabacan police chief, Superintendent Raul Supiter, hinted the explosive was fired about 200 meters away from the blast site.

No one was hurt during the explosion, which took place few minutes after power was cut-off Friday, Supiter said.

Around 8:30 p.m. Friday, another improvised explosive device (IED) went off in a drainage canal placed along the boundary of Barangays Poblacion-B and Dungguan in nearby M'lang town.

M'lang Mayor Joselito Pinol said no one was hurt during the blast.

Supiter hinted the explosions could be connected to the recent armed fighting between government troops and the BIFF rebels.

"This group really wanted to destroy the peace we’re enjoying in our area," Supiter said.

With the twin blasts in North Cotabato, the explosions that rocked the province since the skirmishes broke out in nearby Maguindanao towns numbered to three.

The first was last Monday, around 12:45 a.m. when an IED, fashioned from an 81-mm mortar projectile, went off few feet away from the detachment of Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) located along the highway in Pikit town that wounded four Cafgu and a civilian.

Authorities in North Cotabato cautioned motorists, commuters and civilians to be "extra careful" and "vigilant" to prevent from becoming part of the "collateral damage" to the ongoing conflict in nearby areas.

In Maguindanao, a policeman was killed following an attack staged by the BIFF in Datu Unsay town on Friday night, a military spokesman confirmed Saturday.

Colonel Prudencio Asto, 6th Infantry Division public affairs officer, said an undetermined number of BIFF fighters attacked forces of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force around 11:30 p.m. at the vicinity of Maitumaig village, resulting in the death of PO1 Randy Dumaguing.

Amid the recent clash between the government troops and the BIFF, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF agreed on Saturday to work together against those who would try to derail the peace process.

"The parties condemn the senseless attacks of the so-called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFF-BIFM), as well as the violent acts of lawless elements in several areas in Mindanao. The GPH and the MILF denounce these aggressions or dirty spoiling by groups who will do everything to derail the peace process," said the joint statement. (Sun.Star Davao/VR/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 12, 2012.

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