11 killed as military foils bid to bring IEDs into Lamitan: AFP
A total of 11 persons, including a soldier, were killed while seven were wounded as an improvised bomb exploded in a van at a checkpoint in Basilan on Tuesday.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said based on initial report the explosion occurred at the vicinity of Brgy. Colonia in Lamitan City around 5:50 am.
Arevalo expressed belief the attack was made by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) " because of reports that there are members of ASG who are planning to deploy IEDs.”
He added that, quoting Lt. General Arnel dela Vega, Western Command head, the driver of the van is part of the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama unknown
Arevalo said soldiers were inspecting a van at the checkpoint when the improvised explosive devices inside the vehicle exploded, also killing five Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) members, four civilians (dependents of Cafgu members) and the van driver.
“Another Cafgu member was wounded while six other members of 9th Scout Ranger Company sustained shrapnel wounds,” he said.
He said government forces who sustained minor injuries are being treated.
Arevalo said the soldiers “have foiled an attempt to bring in a vehicle loaded with IEDs to downtown Lamitan City at the cost of their own lives.”
Arevalo said the attack was a desperate move of the terrorist group as they are “swiftly losing ground”.
“This group of Furuji Indama is losing ground. Swiftly losing ground that’s why they are now resorting to this desperate move in order to disrupt the mass surrenders of ASG members in Basilan and in Sulu,” he said.
“In the previous reports that you received from us, it shows that a lot of ASG members have surrendered. They come in groups with their firearms and they wanted to stop this. They are losing their ground that’s why this is their (last) resort... which we have foiled and will continue to foil,” he added.
“While we commend our troops, we condemn in the highest possible terms this yet another dastardly attempt of terrorists to kill, maim, and injure innocent civilians,” he added.
Arevalo said authorities are investigating the incident and they encourage the public to continue to be vigilant and report any suspicious-looking person or things.
"We call on our people to be vigilant and continue their active participation with security forces in reporting their observations. We encourage them to notify the AFP and the PNP for any suspicious people or activities happening in their locality,” he added. Robina Asido/DMS