Suspects in Lanao Sur blast admit membership in MILF – Army

THE REGION
May 14, 2019

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MARAWI CITY-- The suspects in the failed bombing attempt in Marantao, Lanao del Sur on Monday have admitted they were members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), according to Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., commanding officer of the Marawi-based 103rd Infantry Brigade.

Brawner, who hours earlier had declared that the elections in Lanao del Sur were generally peaceful, said two of the suspects were members of the 102nd Base Command under the leadership of Abdullah Macapaar a.k.a. Commander Bravo. “They even have MILF IDs with them,” he added.

But Brawner was quick to say that this does not mean the failed bombing attempt was “sanctioned or ordered by Commander Bravo.”

The MILF commander is now a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body governing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in the three-year transition period until June 30, 2022.

BARMM’s interim Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, also MILF chair, told MindaNews they are “still in the process of investigating” but added “wala kaming MILF ID ever since.”

Von Al Haq, MILF spokesperson, told MindaNews the military can ask Macapaar if, indeed, the suspects are his men, as he is now a government official.

Around 5 p.m. on election day, a suspect inside a white Toyota van reportedly threw an improvised explosive device (IED) apparently towards soldiers guarding a polling center at the Daana-Ingud Bacong Elementary School in neighboring Marantao town, but missed his target as the bomb hit the van’s glass pane instead.

The IED bounced back and exploded inside the van, injuring the bomber, according to Lt. Col.. Jason Jumawan, commander of the 82nd Infantry Battalion.

Authorities arrested the bomber, the uninjured driver, and another suspect found near the blast site. A fourth suspect reportedly ran away, eluding arrest.

“Even if they are members of the 102nd Base Command, it could be that they were used by politicians,” Brawner stressed.

He further said that aside from the IED, they recovered from the Toyota van bearing plate number A3 L057 four IEDs, four blasting caps, four digital watches, two cell phones, one commercial radio, assorted IDs, and four inches of detonating cords.

“It could only mean one thing – they have plans to do bombing,” he said.

In a conversation over the phone with Jumawan, Brawner ordered the release of suspect Al-Musab Abanto, whom Marantao residents said was only at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Residents interviewed by MindaNews said Abanto was in the headquarters of reelectionist Vice Mayor Alahudin Maruhom just across the street when the explosion happened, so he approached and started taking video with his phone. It was at this time that soldiers accosted him.

“We just needed to investigate him because he was at the crime scene,” Brawner said..

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