COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 27 May) — The explosions in Koronadal and Tacurong cities on Thursday were “diversionary tactics and retaliation” staged by the ISIS-linked Dawlah Islamiyah-Mindanao after the military launched an operation that reportedly wounded the group’s top leader and several followers, the Joint Task Force-Central Mindanao (JTF-Central Mindanao) said.
An explosion ripped a passenger bus that was traversing General Santos Drive in Koronadal City at 12:20 p.m. Thursday, wounding at least a person, a police official said.
The explosion tore the back portion of a unit Yellow Bus Line, Inc., which came from Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.
Citing initial investigation, Capt. Renjun Bagaman, spokesperson of the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office, identified the wounded as Wilfredo Tino, reportedly a tricycle driver.
Five minutes later, another explosion took place in Purok Paraiso, Brgy. New Carmen, Tacurong City.
An unidentified person reportedly threw an unknown explosive from a van and left the area immediately. No one was hurt.
Brigadier General Eduardo Gubat, acting commander of JTF-Central Mindanao, said their units have tightened security around the SPMS box in Ligausan marsh where the operation is being conducted.
“That (the bombings) is their reaction after our successful combat operation,” Gubat said.
SPMS refers to the towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi Ampatuan), Mamasapano and Datu Salibo in Maguindanao.
On the morning of May 23, JTF-Central Mindanao launched a preemptive military operation in Sitio Patawali, Barangay Ganta, Datu Salibo using air strike and ground assault resulting in heavy losses on the ISIS-linked group, according to Gubat.
Two from the group were reported dead and 17, including their leader Abu Turaife, were wounded, he said.
“Medyo nasira ang mga (It seems we disrupted their) activities nila doon sa (in the) box, we are strengthening security measures sa mga kabayanan, sa mga kalsada at saka mga (in communities, roads and) places of gathering. We are strengthening the security arrangement with partner in PNP (Philippine National Police). Let’s just be calm,” he added.
Brigadier General Alexander Tagum of Police Regional Office- 12, the provincial government of South Cotabato, and the 6th Infantry Division condemned the bombings. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)