BIFF breakaway group possible suspect for second Sultan Kudarat blast — military 

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) —  Authorities said Monday the death toll has risen to two in the latest bombing incident in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat suspected to be the handiwork of an Islamic State group-inspired faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Philippine National Police (PNP) Spokesperson Bong Durana said the Provincial Director of Sultan Kudarat and the police chief of Isulan were relieved from their posts to give way to the investigation of the attacks. 

Sunday's bombing, which also injured at least 12 people, followed another blast five days earlier that killed three people and wounded more than 30 others. 6th Infantry Division Commander Cirilito Sobejana said the group under Salahuddin Hassan may be responsible for the blast on Sunday.

He added that they are monitoring three areas where the suspects may be hiding, as the town continues to be on lockdown. 

"Ang suspect natin ngayon sa bombing kagabi ito 'yung grupo ni Salahuddin Hassan. Ito 'yung breakaway group from the BIFF," Sobejana said.

[Translation: Our suspect now for the bombing last night is the group of Salahuddin Hassan. This is the breakaway group from the BIFF.]


Durana echoed the commander's statement saying the attacks were "designed to maim and kill a lot of people" possibly to gain media coverage, which indicate that it could be the work of local terrorists. 

"In any other terrorist attack they would want to have their bastardly act to be covered by the media and in areas where they can get good media coverage" He said in a press briefing.

Sobejana said they were already monitoring five improvised explosive devices (IED) that were being transported to South Cotabato before the blast on Sunday.

He said they received reports that these homemade bombs were to be launched in three areas in Sultan Kudarat, including Isulan.

"Before the explosion meron na kaming namonitor na five IEDs na ilalabas, closely monitored namin itong pagtransport nito at ang napag-alaman namin itong lima na 'to dinala nila sa South Cotabato and from there ilalaunch nila 'yung IED attacks sa city of Tacurong, Municipality of Isulan at Municipality of Esperanza," he told CNN Philippines' New Day. 

[Translation: Before the explosion we were monitoring five IEDs to be launched. We closely monitored its transportation to South Cotabato and from there they would launch the IED attacks in the city of Tacurong, and the municipalities of Isulan and Esperanza.] 

Neither Sobejana nor Durana confirmed if the latest bombing incident was related to the first blast in Isulan on August 28. However, Sobejana said the group of Ismael Abubakar was allegedly responsible for the first incident.

Sobejana assured that military has intensified its checkpoints and monitoring operations to thwart any more possible attacks in the areas. 

"We are also doing our focused military operation kung san nanggaling itong mga bombs para sa doon pa lamang maneutraliuze na namin," he said.

[Translation: We are also doing our focused military operations to see where these bombs are coming from so we can neutralize them from there.]

Durana also appealed to the public to remain calm and vigilant amid the incidents.

"In any terror attack, whatever it is, apparently nakita natin [apparently we saw] they would want to sow fear and chaos, but I appeal to the people of Mindanao not to give these lawless elements the luxury of us being cowed with fear," he said.