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COTABATO CITY – The Philippine military disarmed a motorcycle bomb near a police station in the restive Muslim province of Maguindanao.

The motorcycle was laden with dynamites and wired to a blasting cap and a cell phone when policemen and soldiers disrupted the improvised explosives late Sunday in Datu Odin Sinsuat town. It was unclear whether the motorcycle was intentionally parked near the police station or abandoned by its owner upon seeing policemen manning a checkpoint in the area.

No individual or group has claimed ownership of the motorcycle, but authorities were looking at the militant group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or BIFF as behind the foiled attack. The military has blamed the BIFF, a small, but one of the most notorious militant groups, for two recent deadly bombings in Isulan town in the neighboring province of Sultan Kudarat.

Dozens of suspected militants from the BIFF and the larger Abu Sayyaf groups operating in Basilan and Sulu provinces in the Muslim autonomous region have been charged in courts for the attacks, including the July 31 suicide bombing in Lamitan City in Basilan, just 30 nautical miles south of Zamboanga, carried out by a Moroccan ISIS soldier Abu Katheer al Maghribi. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Just last week, BIFF militants clashed with soldiers in Maguindanao’s Datu Montawal town that left 3 civilian casualties who were trapped in the crossfire. Two militants – Mohamid Kambilan and Abdulah Minola – were also captured by soldiers and recovered 3 rifles and a pistol, including ammunition from them. It was unknown if they were included in the criminal complaints filed by the police on Monday in connection to the bombings in Isulan.

But the duo was being linked by the 6th Infantry Division to BIFF faction of militant leader Abu Turaife, who pledged allegiance with ISIS. The captured militants were handed over by soldiers to the municipal police force, according to Captain Arvin Encinas, an army spokesman.

He said the fighting erupted after troops received reports that gunmen were transporting improvised explosives to North Cotabato’s Kabacan town. And soldiers caught up with the militants in the village of Tunggol and a firefight broke out.

Both the BIFF and Abu Sayyaf are fighting for the establishment of a caliphate in the southern region. (Mindanao Examiner)

 

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