COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 24 June) – The military has accused the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) of planting a “booby-trap designed” bomb that killed a pregnant woman and wounded her two toddlers in Barangay Tuayan, Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao on Tuesday.
Lt Col John Paul Baldomar, spokesperson of 6th Infantry Division said the BIFF is notorious for hiding bombs intended for soldiers or to sow fear among among indigenous groups who are claiming disputed lands in the province’s hinterlands.
Baldomar refuted reports that Rosita Kinindi died and her two children were wounded when a mortar fired by soldiers landed on their hut while she was preparing breakfast on Tuesday.
He said there was no military operation in Datu Hoffer at the time, only in Ampatuan town.
He said he contacted the relatives of the victims and had met the tribal leaders to clarify reports on mainstream and social media, and that they could attest that no military operation happened in their village.
Baldomar added he also approached the local officials of Datu Hoffer who were quoted in the reports about the alleged mortar fire.
He said they found out that relatives of the victims were killed by the BIFF too in a brutal manner.
One was tied to a tree and beheaded and three others were burned before they were shot with high-powered firearms, he said.
Meanwhile, the 6th Infantry Division insisted that Ali Akbar was responsible for the June 3 burning of a Yellow Bus Line unit in Mlang town and the January 27 bombing in Tulunan, North Cotabato.
Akbar, the alleged mastermind, was arrested on June 21 in a joint law enforcement operation in Purok 3, Barangay East Patadon in Kidapawan City.
But relatives and neighbors claimed on social media that Akbar is a blind man.
“We are all aware of his condition. It took us more time to initiate the arrest as we verified first his eye condition and series of validation of his real identity. We can assure you he is not totally blind and he is our man we are looking for,” Baldomar said.
He said the suspect’s eyes were damaged in an accident caused by his previous bomb making activities.
BGen Roberto Capulong, 602nd Infantry Brigade commander said they have information that the suspect is an expert bomb maker and is connected to the Dawlah Islamiya-Hassan Group.
Akbar has an outstanding warrant of arrest from Branch 23 of the 12th Regional Trial Court for frustrated murder.
During the arrest, authorities reportedly seized bomb components and a black flag associated with the ISIS.
In an interview with reporters in Kidapawan City, the suspect denied that bomb components were found during the arrest but admitted he was once a member of the terror group but left many years ago. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)