World Bulletin / News Desk
Philippine security forces have detonated a roadside bomb in a Muslim majority southern province where government forces have been clashing with a breakaway rebel group.
Captain Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, told Anadolu Agency Tuesday that there were indications that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) -- which has claimed allegiance to ISIL -- was behind the foiled attack in Maguindanao.
Policemen at the scene told The Philippine Star newspaper that the explosive -- strapped onto a road railing -- was spotted in Iganagampong village by a passerby who immediately reported it to a nearby army outpost.
Soldiers and police closed off the road, located near the town center of Datu Unsay, to traffic for two hours as bomb experts handled the improvised explosive device, leaving hundreds of commuters and motorists unable to pass.
Since early February, the military has been engaged in clashes with the BIFF and conducted operations to clear explosive devices allegedly scattered across Maguindanao by the group.
According to police records, more than 20 bomb attacks in the province over the past five weeks have been blamed on the group as efforts to avenge over 30 members killed since late January.
One of the roadside bombs resulted in the deaths of a treasurer of Datu Salibo town and four other civilians -- including his young child.
The BIFF broke away from the Philippines’ one-time largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in 2011 due to differences with the MILF leadership in handling peace negotiations with the government.
The BIFF is opposed to ongoing peace talks between the government and the MILF, which signed a 2014 peace deal aimed at bringing an end to a separatist conflict that has killed around 150,000 people.
The fighting with the BIFF has been taking place during a stall in the Philippines peace process, leading many to question if a law aimed at sealing the 2014 peace deal will ever be signed.
Both the government and the MILF have warned that while the agreement is shelved during the duration of the country's presidential elections, "terrorist" groups may try and take advantage of local frustrations to move into the territory.Last Mod: 22 Mart 2016, 11:33