Moroccan ‘suicide-bomber’ in Basilan blast linked to Abu Sayyaf – Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that a Moroccan national from the Abu Sayyaf was likely involved in the powerful Basilan explosion last week.
“Sabi ng intelligence 80 percent na siya ‘yun,” he told reporters in a press briefing on Thursday.
Accounts of eyewitnesses also indicate that the suspect was a foreigner and could not speak English or local language.
But the defense chief insisted that the suspect was a member of the Abu Sayyaf and not the Islamic State (ISIS). Intelligence reports also say that the suspect was based in Sulu before he moved to Basilan.
“Yung intelligence natin meron silang nakuhang pictures sa Sulu of a foreign-looking guy na may dalawang kasamang bata allegedly anak daw niya ito. Yung isa namatay, yung isa sugatan and he was trying to (take) revenge sa pagkamatay ng anak niya,” he said.
The suspect allegedly was convincing Abu Sayyaf members to conduct a suicide bombing.
“Wala namang sumasama. Luckily, wala pang matapang na Pilipino na mag-suicide bombing,” Lorenzana said.
The ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that the same Moroccan national was one of their fighters.
“Alam mo naman yang ISIS they can claim anything. Tulad nung sa Resorts World, they claimed that it’s them ‘yun pala Pilipino lang na ayaw papasukin na gustong magsugal,” Lorenzana noted.
Eleven were killed from the explosion that rocked a military checkpoint in Lamitan City, Basilan last July 31.
At that time, militamen at the checkpoint inspected a white van reportedly carrying improvised explosive device. The driver appeared to be a foreigner and could not speak in local dialect when they approached him, initial reports stated.
The van exploded before the military found about the explosives.
“That time siguro suicide bombing na siya kasi wala na siyang magawa, mahuhuli na siya. So nag-suicide na lang siya. But that was not the intention siguro. Ang intention niya dalhin ‘yung vehicle sa isang lugar na maka-inflict ng maximum casualty. Kaya lang nahuli na siya,” Lorenzana said.
Authorities suspect that the driver wanted to bring the van near the plaza in Lamitan City, where a feeding program for 4,000 children was scheduled on that same day. /kga
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