MSU bombing possible retaliation vs successful AFP anti-terror drive – Brawner
MANILA, Philippines — The military had been on alert as it was expecting retaliatory attacks like the fatal bombing in Mindanao State University (MSU) after their major gains like the killings of ranking leaders of Daulah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group last week, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner.
Brawner added that the AFP even warned all of the security forces in the region to be vigilant after the killings of a suspected leader of the Daulah Islamiyah — a group inspired by Islamic State (IS) — and 10 other fighters in Datu Hofer, Maguindanao del Sur last Friday, Dec. 1; and the killing of local Abu Sayyaf leader Mudzimar Sawadjaa on Saturday, Dec. 2.
The IS claimed responsibility for the terror attack, but the AFP said it is still investigating if the transnational radical group is directly involved.
Brawner, when asked over the CNN Philippines on Tuesday if the AFP expected retaliation after these major gains, said: “Yes, in fact we are expecting this.”
“One possibility is that this is a retaliatory attack because we have been very successful in our campaign against local terrorist groups,” he said.
“In the past, if you look at the history of the terroristic attacks in the country, usually when we have a big success against a terrorist group they usually do these kinds of attacks [and] bombings,” Brawner said.
“We believe that they are not anymore capable of launching an attack just like what we saw in Marawi during the Marawi Siege … so what they are doing now are attacks such as this one, only the small ones, targeting soft targets,” he continued, partly in Filipino.
Brawner, however, said there were no intelligence reports about the MSU bombing which killed four people and wounded 54 others.
When asked if this constitutes failure of intelligence, Brawner replied: “I don’t think so, we have warned the necessary forces, security forces, even the LGUs and the civilians to be wary, to be vigilant because these kinds of things could happen.”
He also noted that the AFP personnel could not just enter the MSU because it has its own security force just like the University of the Philippines.
Following the incident, Brawner said the MSU administration welcomed the military and the police inside their campus as a “temporary arrangement.”
“The good thing about it is the MSU officials themselves said that they will now welcome back the AFP and the Philippine National Police inside the campus,” he said.