Cops foil bomb attempt in S. Kudarat

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Police have foiled another potential bomb attack in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao with the recovery Wednesday night of an improvised bomb near a police detachment in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat province.

Police Director Felicisimo Khu, chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Western Mindanao, said Thursday the improvised explosive device (IED) was found early Wednesday evening about 500 meters away from a police security checkpoint in Purok Sampaguita, Barangay Griño in Tacurong City.

He said the bomb was left unattended near a rice field located beside the highway that connects Tacurong City and Lambayong town in Sultan Kudarat.

“The couriers may have been trying to move the IED to their target area but could not get past the checkpoint because of the tight security,” Khu said in a radio interview.

The police official said the explosive, which was immediately disarmed through “water disruption” by the Sultan Kudarat police’s explosives ordnance disposal or EOD unit, was fashioned from an 81mm mortar shell and attached to an alarm clock that serves as triggering mechanism.

He said it was similar to the bomb that was recovered last June infront of the Fit Mart department store in Tacurong City.

Khu noted that the bomb could have been intended for another planned attack, possibly in Tacurong City or other key cities of Region 12, by an alleged terrorist cell led by fugitive bomber Abdul Basit Usman. Usman, who is reportedly backed by Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, had been tagged as behind the string of bomb attacks in Region 12 in the past several years.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Since June, Khu said they have so far recovered 11 improvised explosives in several parts of the region and nearby Maguindanao province.
He said five bomb attacks have ensued in the region during the last two months that already left five people dead and injured 11 others.

Two weeks ago, a car bomb exploded near the national highway in Tacurong City, killing a civilian and an official of Maguindanao province.
The powerful explosion happened as the convoy of Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu was passing by a portion of the Alunan Highway in
Tacurong City.  (Allen V. Estabillo/ Mindanews)