COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 16 July) – The convoy of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman was luckily spared from a roadside bombing in Basilan early Wednesday when the device planted along the highway exploded several minutes late.
The roadside bomb was planted in Sitio Urot near the town proper of Tipo-Tipo.
Hataman was inspecting ongoing infrastructure projects of the ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways in the northern towns of the province.
Security officials in the region said there were indications that the Abu Sayyaf was behind the bombing attempt.
Hataman said police probers are unsure yet if it was their convoy that the bombers had indeed targeted.
“It went off 30 minutes after we traversed that place. I don’t want to think it was me who was the target of that bombing,” said Hataman, a known adversary of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan. The governor is from Basilan and his family is active in the province’s political scene.
Hataman added there is also a possibility that the roadside bomb was meant to harm teams of soldiers dispatched to secure the route of the convoy or securing government projects.
There have been previous incidents that maimed and killed soldiers guarding government projects in Basilan.
The Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion, led by Lt. Col. Enerito Lebeco, immediately responded to the blast site and defused two other roadside bombs found several meters away from the spot where the first bomb exploded.
The deactivated improvised explosive devices were made up of live 81mm mortar projectiles rigged with battery-operated blasting mechanisms connected to mobile phones.
The Basilan police, in a report to ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team, said they recovered two other IEDs believed to be secondary explosives.