Military tags 2 terror groups in Koronadal bus bombing

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Koronadal City, Philippines

Authorities have tagged two local terror groups in Thursday’s bus bombing in Koronadal City that injured two persons and caused panic among local residents.

The incident was followed an hour later by another blast along a thoroughfare in Barangay Calean in nearby Tacurong City.

No one was hurt in the explosion, according to the Tacurong City Police Office.

Brig. Gen. Eduardo Gubat of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division said Friday, May 27, their units and the police have tightened security in all public terminals in central Mindanao to prevent a repeat of Thursday’s bombing of a unit of the Yellow Bus Line.

Gubat, also commander of the Army-led anti-terror Joint Task Force Central, and Brig. Gen. Alexander Tagum of the Police Regional Office-12 (PRO-12) separately told reporters there are clear indications that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Dawlah Islamiya together plotted the bus bombing.

These terror groups, fashioned from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, have a reputation for venting ire on non-military targets over losses in clashes with government forces.

Two BIFF members, Abdul Patir and Sadam Salandang, perished in the military air and artillery maneuvers Monday, May 23, in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

Seven other terrorists, among them Abu Toraife, who is wanted for over 30 criminal cases pending in different courts, were wounded in the division’s anti-terror offensive.

Abu Toraife, a radical cleric known for fomenting hatred for non-Muslims, is the leader of one of three factions in the BIFF.

Members of different municipal peace and order councils said barangay officials in areas along central Mindanao’s 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta have pointed to the BIFF and the Dawlah Islamiya as behind the bus bombing.

The Liguasan Delta, which spans through lowlands in central Mindanao’s adjoining Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato provinces, is a known bastion of both ISIS-inspired groups.

The bus bombing on Thursday was an apparent retaliation for the death of Patir and Salandang, according to sources.

Tagum said the PRO-12 has deployed plainclothes intelligence operatives in public terminals.

The BIFF and the Dawlah Islamiya are also feared for bombing business establishments and public conveyances if demands for “protection money” are not met.

The tricycle driver injured in the Thursday bombing, Wilfredpo IlaganTino, is out of danger, officials said.

He is now confined in a hospital, according to the South Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

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The bus had five passengers, one of them a woman who was also rushed to a hospital for temporary loss of hearing. She was released from the hospital after having recovered an hour later.

The South Cotabato PDRRMO said all five passengers of the bombed out bus, its driver and conductor survived the explosion with only superficial bruises. (John Unson)

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