DND chief: Bombing raised extremism level
MANILA, Philippines — Friday’s suicide bombing at a military camp in Sulu province has raised the level of violent extremism in the country, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday.
“I think we have a lot of work to do, ” Lorenzana said on the sidelines of Monday’s launch of the satellite warehouse of the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for Asean at Camp Aguinaldo.
“[We have to] talk to the leaders on the ground, the traditional leaders, the sultans, the datus and also the BARMM (Bangsamoro Authomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). I think they do not want [violence] happening in their area. They want a BARMM that is peaceful,” he said.
Third in less than a year
The bombing in Sulu was the third in less than a year in Mindanao, which is under martial law.
“This is actually a very important development in the South … It’s becoming a frequent occurrence and we are very much concerned about this,” Lorenzana said.
On July 31, 2018, a Moroccan suicide bomber attacked a military checkpoint in Lamitan, Basilan province, killing 10 people.
The second blast on Jan. 27 targeted a Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, and killed 20 people, including the suicide bombers.
Friday’s blast at the headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 1st Battalion in Indanan, Sulu, killed eight people, including three soldiers, and wounded 22 others.
According to Lorenzana, the suicide bomber knocked on the camp’s gate and exploded the bomb when the Army sentry asked what the man needed.
The terror group Islamic State earlier claimed responsibility for the attack.
Checking bombers’ identities
Lorenzana said the military was checking the identities of the bombers.
Gen. Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police, told a press briefing at Camp Crame on Monday that there was a strong possibility the suicide bombers were Filipinos.
“If they are [Filipinos], that is the first time that we have locals engaged in suicide bombings,” Albayalde said.
President Duterte on Sunday conferred military honors on one of the soldiers killed in the blasts.
The President posthumously awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu, Rank of Kalasag, to Cpl. Richard Macabadbad in recognition of the soldier’s dedication to service. —With a report from Julie M. Aurelio
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