CDO blast suspects not in MILF camps – Army

BALINDONG, Lanao del Sur (MindaNews/10 September) – Army personnel found no terror suspects in two Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps in this town earlier alleged to have served as training ground of those believed responsible for the July 26 bombing at a resto-bar in Cagayan de Oro City.

FRIENDS. MILF commander Abdurahman Macapaar, aka Kumander Bravo (center), and Col. Glen Macasero, commanding officer of the 103rd Infantry Brigade (left) during a press conference inside the rebel Camp Watu in Barangay Barit, Balindong town in Lanao del Sur Monday, Sept. 9. The MILF has allowed the Philippine Army to search their camps in Lanao del Sur following allegations that they were harboring terror groups responsible for the series of bombings in Cagayan de Oro City and other parts of Mindanao. No terror suspects were found in the camps.  Mindanews Photo
FRIENDS. MILF commander Abdurahman Macapaar, aka Kumander Bravo (center), and Col. Glen Macasero, commanding officer of the 103rd Infantry Brigade (left) during a press conference inside the rebel Camp Watu in Barangay Barit, Balindong town in Lanao del Sur Monday, Sept. 9. The MILF has allowed the Philippine Army to search their camps in Lanao del Sur following allegations that they were harboring terror groups responsible for the series of bombings in Cagayan de Oro City and other parts of Mindanao. No terror suspects were found in the camps. Mindanews Photo

MILF commander Abdurahman Macapaar, aka Kumander Bravo opened the front’s camps in Barangay Barit and Bualan Monday to the Army inspection team led by Col. Glen Macasero, commanding officer of the 103rd Infantry Brigade.

Macasero said they chose to search the camps of Bravo because one or two of them seemed to resemble those in the photos supplied by their intelligence about the Khilafa Islamiyah Mindanao, an obscure group said to be behind the blast.

“But we were mistaken. We did not find anything in the camps of Bravo and it was very different from the pictures when we inspected them closely,” he said.

The Army official said they inspected eight structures at one of the camps of Bravo but found nothing suspicious. The same thing happened in the nearby camp in Barangay Bualan.

The camps are located on Mt. Gurain (1700 masl) overlooking Balindong.

“We welcome this opportunity to show the world that the MILF is not harboring any terrorist groups. We will help search for the suspects,” MILF’s James Macaraya said.

Army and police intelligence reports said the bombers underwent training in explosives handling in the two MILF camps here last year.

Rommel Banlaoi, chair of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said it was in Lanao del Sur that members of the Khilafa Islamiyah Mindanao were trained in explosives handling.

Banlaoi said he has several pictures showing members of the group holding training in Lanao del Sur and elsewhere in Mindanao.

One of the pictures shown by Banlaoi to reporters is a smiling Reneer Lou Dongon, alias Rolly Unting raising an M16 rifle with alleged terror leader Ustadz Usman Abdul Najid. The photo was supposedly taken somewhere in Lanao del Sur.

“Najid is the real leader. He is the one calling the shots for this group,” Banlaoi said.

Police arrested Dongon in Marawi City last May 11 but he was released several days later. During his arrest police allegedly found a sizable cache of bomb-making materials in his possession.

Police in Cagayan de Oro have filed multiple murder charges against a certain Usman Hapids and five others including a woman for the bombing at Kyla’s Bar at the Limketkai Rosario Arcade in Cagayan de Oro.

Eight persons including two doctors died while 46 others were injured in the bombing incident.

Members of the International Monitoring Team, the MILF-GPH Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group and the local monitoring teams accompanied the Army inspection team.

The MILF did not allow the reporters to accompany the Army soldiers inspecting the two camps.

“Baka may makita kayo na iba,” (You might see something else) an MILF official told the reporters.

Bravo in his brief talk with the reporters said he will not allow terrorists to use any of his camps.

“Ako na ang huhuli sa kanila,” (I’ll arrest them myself) the MILF leader said.

Macasero said he is satisfied with the search saying he admired the way the MILF granted their request to search their camps.

“This is a very momentous event. The MILF and us have proven that the peace mechanisms are working. We need not go to battle over anything,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)

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