COTABATO CITY, Philippines – While a big thanksgiving affair was set to be held Tuesday in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, a powerful bomb exploded at Datu Piang Monday morning, wounding a high ranking commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Movement (BIFM) and three others.
The military has confirmed that an improvised explosive device went off at around 8:30 a.m. Monday at the roadside of Barangay Lower Salbu that injured BIFM chief of staff known only as `Kumander Karyalan” and three others, including an unnamed BIFM vice chair for political affairs.
Colonel Eduardo Garcia of the Army’s First Mechanized Infantry Brigade said they have yet to know the type of IED used that BIFM spokesperson Abu Misri said could have been a timed bomb.
Misri said the victims were among the 30-motorcycle convoy heading to an undisclosed place in Maguindanao to attend a Islamic symposium.
The BIFM and its military wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation that severed ties when the latter has reportedly abandoned its original struggle for total independence in 2010 which lately signed a Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro with the Aquino government.
“We have no suspects yet on who’s behind the bomb explosion, but government forces that’s running after us,” said Misri, referring to pending warrants for their arrest due to commission of past atrocities.
As a result of the roadside bombing in Datu Piang town, security measures have been tightened along the national highway and other streets leading to Shariff Aguak where thousands of people are expected to converge on Tuesday for the grand `kanduli’ (thanksgiving) hosted by Mayor Zahara Ampatuan.
Ampatuan said the apolitical gathering would have MILF Vice Chair for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar as guest speaker.
She said the convergence of people on Tuesday would have MILF, military, and police officials as guests, including local government units and inhabitants of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and other adjacent provinces.
Ampatuan said she was saddened to learn of the Datu Piang blast, saying the incident was contrary to Tuesday’s event that she described as thanksgiving for the fruitful signing of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro aimed at forging the final peace accord with the MILF.