KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/18 July) – Police claimed to have foiled a supposed terror attack timed for Sunday’s culmination of South Cotabato’s 44th foundation anniversary and 11th T’nalak Festival with the discovery Friday of alleged bomb-making materials in the house of a suspected bomber in a remote village in Tupi town.
Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, Region 12 police director, said Sunday elements from the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office seized a live 60mm mortar shell and several other suspected bomb components in a raid at the house of Jim Bacal Tapayag in Purok 6, Barangay Bunao in Tupi.
He claimed the recovered explosives were supposedly intended for a planned attack during the culmination of the twin festivities here.
“This is a major breakthrough for our ongoing security operations. We’re on heightened alert right now and all our units are closely monitoring our security situation to counter any other attempts by these terrorist groups to disrupt our normal activities in the area,” he said in an interview over radio station dxMC Bombo Radyo.
Supt. Barney Condes, intelligence and investigation chief of the South Cotabato police, said they launched the raid following a tip regarding an alleged plot by suspected terror groups to launch bomb attacks during the festivities here.
Aside from the 60mm live mortar shell, he said the raiding team recovered from the suspect’s house a meter reader and several nails believed to be intended as components of the explosive.
But the suspect, who has been reportedly using the aliases Jing Sulaiman and Toting, maintained his innocence during a brief interview with the same radio station.
He denied owning the explosive and insisted that they were just left to him for safekeeping by a certain Ting Mawanao, who supposedly hails from this city.
Condes said their records showed that the suspect, who is currently undergoing interrogation by police investigators, was allegedly involved in a series of car thefts in the area.
“We’re hoping to get some vital information from him that may lead to the identity of his other possible cohorts,” he said.
Condes said they are already building up the case that they are scheduled to file against the suspect on Monday.
The five-day festivities, which were highlighted by a colorful street dancing competition and the traditional foundation anniversary program Sunday morning, has so far remained peaceful and orderly, said South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr.
He lauded the arrest of the suspected bomber saying it clearly shows that police units and other security operatives in the area have been working all-out to ensure that the entire province remained secure during the celebrations.
The festivities, which were graced Sunday morning by Senator Franklin Drilon, ended Sunday night with a “Disco sa Kalye” or street party and a grand fireworks display dubbed “Luces in the Sky.” (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)