ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Central Mindanao has been placed on high alert amid reports of a bomb plot by militant groups.
Director Felicisimo Khu, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operation (DIPO) for Western Mindanao, said intelligence reports showed that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) led by Basit Usman was behind the bomb plot.
Usman, said to be a trained bomber of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), has been blamed for the recent spate of bomb attacks in Central Mindanao.
Khu said Usman's group had initially planned the bombing for Christmas Day.
“At the start of year, an intel report was received that the bombing plan would be executed on Jan. 4 or 5. Thus all PNP (Philippine National Police) units to include the JTF (Joint Task Force) Gensan were put on high alert,” he said.
He said the security alert resulted in the recovery of an improvised explosive device in Barangay Magon, Tantangan town, South Cotabato last week. He said the IED was intended to hit a passenger bus in General Santos City.
Khu said an IED planted near a commercial building along Naranjita street in Barangay Dadiangas South, General Santos City was also discovered by a security guard at around 2 p.m. on Sunday. He said the bomb was placed inside a 1.5 liter soda plastic bottle wrapped in a plastic bag.
Khu said the bomb had the markings of the Bangsamoro Youth Movement and Bangsamoro Independence Movement.
Authorities uncovered the bomb plot as the US government renewed its travel warning on the Philippines, saying terrorist attacks could occur in Mindanao.
Khu assured the public that police authorities would remain on alert even as he urged the public to remain vigilant. - By Roel Pareño