Army blames BIFF in Maguindanao bomb attacks on civilians, non-combatants

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 18 Feb) – The military here has blamed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for the series of bomb attacks in Maguindanao allegedly targeting not only military combatants but also civilians.

The latest attempt of the BIFF was to set off an improvised bomb along the highway in Gindulungan town in Maguindanao Wednesday afternoon that provided discomfort to motorists, including this reporter, for two hours.

An alert infantryman noticed what he suspected at first glance to be an improvised explosive device (IED) by the roadside.

Army bomb experts quickly responded and confirmed it was a bomb, according to Col. Feliciano Budiongan, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade.

“The BIFF was targeting the military and non-combatants alike,” he said of the IED found in Guindulungan town where a team of soldiers had just passed by.

Almost at the same time, an IED went off in Barangay Crossing Taviran, about 800 meters away from an Army battalion headquarters.

Nobody was hurt. “Luckily, no civilian passersby were hurt,” Budiongan said.

The IED, according to Budiongan, was made of black powder, empty shells of ammunition, electrical wiring and spark plugs for motorcycles.

It also contained cut concrete nails as shrapnel.

Budiongan said the group of BIFF commander Abu Nasria was behind the series of bombings on Maguindanao roads, apparently to divert the Army’s attention from Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

The Army and the BIFF have been trading bullets and mortars in Datu Salibo, a marshland town in Maguindanao, since Feb. 5 after the rebel group harassed a government dredging project in the town.

But BIFF spokesperson Abu Misri Mama quickly denied his group was behind the roadside bombings, including the one in Datu Saudi Ampatuan that killed a town treasurer and three others.

At about the same time, soldiers had their attention focused on a nipa house in Barangay Salbu also in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, where they found a secondary bomb that the BIFF could have set off.

It was reportedly similar to a bomb exploded two years ago in the same municipality, wherein 12 people, including two workers of a national TV network, were injured.

Budiongan said the area is bomb prone because it is isolated and lack street lights.

As of press time, tension remained high in Datu Salibo and Datu Saudi Ampatuan.