New threat group suspected in bombings
MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Saturday said a new threat group called the Kilafah Islamic Movement was among those suspected to be behind the recent spate of bombings in central Mindanao.
Kilafah is the umbrella organization of peace saboteurs, which include the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Gazmin told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
Asked about Kilafah’s objective, Gazmin said: “They just don’t want the framework agreement, the peace process.”
“(It) is one of the suspects emerging from the investigation into the bombings, but there is no confirmation yet as to who is really behind it,” Gazmin said. He said that Kilafah was organized some time ago.
Gazmin said it appeared that Kilafah was a potent threat group in terms of its ruthlessness.
“They don’t recognize anyone when it comes to killing people and inflicting harm on the public,” Gazmin said.
Earlier, an Inquirer source in the intelligence community said Kilafah was organized by terror groups and a breakaway MILF faction that was behind the spate of deadly bombings in central Mindanao.
Intelligence agents, however, are still determining the exact motive of the groups for coming together, aside from trying to sabotage the ongoing peace talks between the government and the MILF.
The Inquirer source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak to the media, said Kilafah was fairly new with members coming from al-Qaida, Jemaah Islamiyah and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters headed by former MILF commander Ameril Umra Kato.
“We haven’t established their real motive yet, aside from some of them being angry over the peace agreement. Our people on the ground are still confirming some information,” the source said.
The source, however, said state security forces had already learned what the next likely targets of this new terror group were, which has prompted the police to increase their presence in these areas.
Malacañang, meanwhile, on Saturday called on the media to be wary of publishing reports from unnamed sources on the spate of bombings in Mindanao and fears that the violence will reach Metro Manila.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said operations were going on against the perpetrators of the bombings but given the sensitive nature of the information, “we can’t really discuss details.”
“If you will notice, these bombings have random targets. It’s not about religion, it’s not about your affiliation, but it’s being done randomly,” Valte said in an interview over state-run radio dzRB.
As for the BIFF reportedly planning a “test mission” in Metro Manila, Valte said: “You know, let’s be careful about reports like this.”
“Let’s make sure that it comes from the correct sources because as it is, we don’t want to be spreading…perhaps incorrect information,” Valte said. With a report from Norman Bordadora
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