COTABATO CITY—Suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attempted anew but failed to destroy a vital bridge in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao on Saturday night.
The 10-meter bridge in Barangay Magaslong suffered minor cracks but remained intact, according to Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division.
Hermoso said residents living near the bridge pointed at two BIFF rebel leaders, identified as Abu Sumaya and Montaser, as the ones who planted the improvised explosive device made from two 60 mm mortars.
The same group had bombed last month the longer Magaslong Bridge, a few hundred meters from a smaller bridge that the BIFF wanted to destroy on Saturday night.
Hermoso said the mobile phone-detonated IED did not cause any major damage to the bridge.
Hermoso added that the rebels wanted to disable the bridge to prevent military hardware from going to Datu Piang and Shariff Saydona Mustapha towns that the BIFF had been harassing since last month.
“Once the bridge is disabled, we will have a hard time bringing our agricultural products to other parts of Maguindanao,” said Sumail Kasim, a farmer from Datu Piang’s agriculture area.
Hermoso said the Army suspended its offensives against the bandit groups in deference to Ramadan.
“It is very unfortunate that the BIFF continues to harass Army detachments, which may result in military operations that would disrupt the fasting month,” Hermoso said.
According to engineer James Mlok, chief of the second district engineering office in Maguindanao, the two bridges remained passable to vehicles.
Mlok appealed to the Moro gunmen to spare bridges as these have nothing to do with their struggle.
“I’m appealing to armed men to refrain from destroying government infrastructures built to make the lives of Moro people convenient,” he said.
“Our brother and sister Muslims will suffer if roads and bridges are damaged,” he said.
The bombing of the bridge in Datu Piang was preceded by mortar attacks by suspected BIFF guerrillas on Army detachments in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town, also in Maguindanao.