Maguindanao’s security tightened

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - (With a report from Rhoderick Beñez)

COTABATO CITY – Soldiers and policemen tightened its security in Maguindanao province in the restive Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines where security forces are battling insurgents.

The heightened security came following a twin bomb explosions recently that injured four security personnel and village officials.

The improvised explosives went off successively in Datu Odin Sinsuat town near an army training camp and wounded a policeman, a soldier and two village leaders. The bombs were planted along the road and exploded hitting the soldier who was near the area. The second explosion injured the trio investigating the blast.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the troubled province is a known stronghold of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and local ISIS militants now battling security forces in Maguindanao and in the besieged city of Marawi.

The 6th Infantry Division and the Western Mindanao Command did not release any statement on the twin blasts, but police have tightened security in the town, putting up checkpoints and deployed more patrols to prevent similar attacks in the future.

It was unclear how the bomber managed to sneak near the army camp and planted the explosives without being detected despite the current military rule in Mindanao. The blasts came days after an alleged BIFF bomber was captured by the army in Midsayap town in the neighboring province of North Cotabato.

Several weapons and materials in the manufacture of improvised explosives were also seized from the jihadist, whose identity was not released by the military, saying, the man is currently being interrogated.

Security forces and militants have been fighting sporadically since August in Maguindanao and troops, aided by BIFF rival group Moro Islamic Liberation Front, had recovered over two dozen improvised explosives from the clashes in the towns of Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Talayan and Datu Salibo. At least 7 soldiers were injured in the clashes since August with the military insisting it killed more than five dozen BIFF fighters, although it did not provide evidence of its claims.

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