PNP-12 steps up guard amid threats

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/7 July) – Police authorities stepped up their security operations in several parts of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao due to alleged fresh threats of terror attacks from a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Police Director Felicisimo Khu, chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Western Mindanao, said Thursday they received intelligence reports that a local terrorist cell allied with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has been planning to launch bomb attacks in key cities in the region.

He said the planned attacks would be spearheaded by former members of the MILF’s special operations group who have joined the BIFF.

The BIFF is composed of former members of the MILF under its fugitive brigade commander Amiril Umra Kato.

“All our units are currently on full alert and I have instructed the police directors and station chiefs in the region to intensify their preemptive security measures,” he said in an interview over Bombo Radyo in Koronadal City.

Khu said among the areas that were identified as possible sites for the attacks are the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and the municipalities of Midsayap and Kabacan in North Cotabato as well as Isulan in Sultan Kudarat.

The police official advised local residents to remain vigilant and take the threats seriously.

Since last month, he stressed that police operatives in the region already recovered at least six improvised bombs that appear intended for the planned terror attacks in the area.

Khu said two powerful improvised explosives fashioned from live 81-mm mortar shells were safely defused last June 1 by the police and military’s explosives ordnance disposal units in Tacurong City.

The bombs were found abandoned underneath a stall posted in front of the Fit Mart department store in Tacurong.

He said two more improvised explosives were recovered in S.K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao last June 22 and another two at a checkpoint in Esperanza town in Sultan Kudarat last June 27.

Khu said that based on the results of the investigation conducted by the Police Regional Office 12, the planned attacks were connected with the recent bomb explosions in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao, Tacurong City and in Amas in Kidapawan City. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)