2 bomb couriers killed in North Cotabato shootout
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Two men carrying a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) were killed in a shootout with lawmen in Mlang, North Cotabato early Wednesday, police said.
Supt. Bernard Tayong, speaking for the North Cotabato police provincial office, said joint elements of police and the military’s 7th Infantry Battalion initially flagged down the motorcycle-riding suspects at a checkpoint in Barangay Sangat. But the two allegedly dodged inspection by speeding off past authorities.
A pursuit operation was launched and then the gunfight ensued, according to Mlang Vice Mayor Joselito Pinol. Another suspect managed to escape.
It took more than an hour for lawmen to get closer to the slain suspects, who were carrying a black sling bag which authorities later found out to contain an improvised bomb.
“The bomb has no blasting cap, it’s an incomplete IED,” Tayong told the INQUIRER.
The IED was made of 60-mm mortar ammunition, a mobile phone, cut nails and several bullets.
Police and Army bomb experts later found a pistol and several sachets of suspected shabu from the two slain suspects.
The discovery of IED in Barangay Sangat was the fourth alleged bombing attempt in North Cotabato – three in Mlang and another in Kidapawan City.
On Sunday afternoon, an IED was found on a roadside in Barangay Poblacion, Mlang. Police and military bomb experts later deactivated it.
On Monday morning, a similar IED was found in front of a store in Barangay Bagontapay, also in Mlang. Residents discovered the black bag with the bomb and also said two men on motorbike left it there before fleeing.
At 7 p.m. Monday, workers of Gaisano Grand Mall in Kidapawan City found two grenades at the mall’s entrance-exit door. Bomb experts safely recovered the explosives.
Supt. Ramel Hojilla, acting Kidapawan City police director, said the discovery of explosives at the mall was related to a conflict involving two security agencies providing security services for the mall.
“There appears to be misunderstanding between the two groups over who should take the lead role in securing the mall,” Hojilla said.
An Army intelligence officer said the bombing attempts in Mlang could be the work of IS linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) “to show it is still a force to reckon with, following the signing of Bangsamoro Organic Law.”
“The group is making noise to show its capability,” the officer said. /kga
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