Blast rocks Sultan Kudarat

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 16 November)—An explosion rocked Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat Friday morning with authorities later arresting the suspected bomber, police officials said.

Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, Sultan Kudarat police director, said the improvised explosive device (IED) went off along the national highway at around 7:30 a.m.

No one was hurt in the incident. Another unexploded IED was recovered in another part of the city.

The explosion hit the city just as the provincial celebration for the annual Kalimudan Festival is ongoing and will culminate on November 22, Balquin said.

Following the explosion, the police official said that policemen arrested the suspected bomber, Abdulrahman Usman, alias Teng Usman, 37, of Barangay Kudal in Pagalungan town in Maguindanao.

The suspect was subjected to a tactical interrogation that will hopefully help authorities in tracking down his companions, Balquin said.

Supt. Gilbert Tuazon, Tacurong police chief, said the suspect admitted he is allegedly connected with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), a group formed by Ameril Umbra Kato, erstwhile commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s 105th Base Command.

Tuazon said that Usman claims he is under the BIFM under a certain Commander Gani.

But Usman pointed to a certain Dots Andot as the mastermind of the bomb attack, Tuazon said.

The IED exploded a kilometer away from the Genalyn Resort, which is owned by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, who did not discount the possibility that he could be the target.

Mangudadatu said he always use that road where the explosion occurred in traversing Maguindanao and South Cotabato areas.

“I’m eager to get information from the investigators on the account of the suspect, this might be related to the persistent intelligence report I received since yesterday [Thursday] that they will launch an attack against me and the event prepared in the [Ampatuan] Massacre site on its third year anniversary,” the governor said.

He was referring to the November 23, 2009 brutal slayings of 58 people in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, which include his wife Genalyn and 32 media workers.

In a text message from Mangudadatu, he cited a report that last November 13, Datu Item Ampatuan, Datu Bahnarin Ampatuan, Datu Kanor Ampatuan and other relatives allegedly met in Hill Kampana, Rajah Buayan town and plotted to sabotage the massacre site during the third year commemoration.

The report added that the group also allegedly met with the local Jemaah Islamiyah network of Basit Usman to purchase a homemade bomb.

Authorities are still verifying the information coming from Mangudadatu.

In August last year, a powerful bomb exploded just as the convoy of Mangudadatu was passing the national highway also in Tacurong City. Two persons were killed and six others were injured in the incident. (Malu Cadelina Manar and Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)