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SULTAN KUDARAT – Police on Tuesday disarmed a powerful bomb left behind by 2 men who were captured following a chase in the southern Philippine province of Sultan Kudarat.

The men left a suitcase near a street pole in Isulan town containing a 105mm howitzer round rigged to a cell phone. Police said the suitcase was also filled with iron nails.

They were identified as Salahudin Eson, 31, of Datu Sarip Saidona town, and Tutin Kuti, 24, of Datu Piang town, all in Maguindanao province where security forces are battling Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other jihadist groups.

It was not immediately known whether the duo is a member of the BIFF or other rebel group.

The foiled bombing coincided with a “unity march” by civil employees and members of the police and military celebrating the start of the Fire Prevention Month and Women’s Month in the town.

Police said the two men tried to escape on a motorcycle, but they were cornered by lawmen and eventually captured. It was unknown if they were armed with guns or not. The duo is currently being interrogated.

Security forces were also alerted by the presence of an abandoned bag in Tacurong City also in Sultan Kudarat, but it only contained clothing and electric charger for a laptop computer. Government forces are battling jihadists and rebels for weeks now in nearby Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces in the restive Muslim autonomous region. (With a report from Rose Muneza)

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