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JI blamed for Sultan Kudarat bombings

- James Mananghaya -

Police blamed a suspected member of the international terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) for the bombings that injured six residents last Thursday night in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Sultan Kudarat police director Senior Supt. Benhur Mongao said that police and military intelligence sources have identified Basit Usman, an alleged member of the JI, a terrorist group operating in Southeast Asia, as the suspect in the bombing in Isulan.

Usman is an associate of Indonesia terrorists Omar Patek and Dulmatin, both JI bomb experts who are wanted for the bombings that killed more than 200 people in Bali, Indonesia in 2002. Usman has a $50,000 reward for his capture.

Maj. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command, said Rowena Durana, 38, Diego Sitti Honorata, 46, Ramil Noblieza, 25, Aileen Ancatan, 33, Rey Tacuyan, 21, and Jean Uloy, 21, were injured after the first explosion at around 8 p.m. beside a Mercury Drugstore in the town’s plaza. The victims were brought to the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital.

Investigators said the suspects used an improvised explosive device (IED).

The second explosion occurred five minutes later beside the Sukelco Substation of the Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative along the national highway in Barangay Kalawag, causing major damage to the perimeter fence of the installation. No casualty was reported in the second bombing.

Cabangbang said intelligence units are already tracking down the suspects.

Meanwhile, a source said that the arrest Dec. 2 of Bangladeshi Muhammad Alpariz in Datu Nastura, Shariff Kabunsuan forced other suspect JI members to abandon their safe houses that were being monitored by government agents.

He said the arrest of Alparis was made after residents provided the information to military and police operatives.

Alpariz was nabbed in his rented shop in Barangay Tapayan in Datu Nastura where the suspect posed as an electrician and a cellular telephone repairman. The raiding team seized two IEDs made of 60 mm mortars, two 81mm mortars, and several bomb-making devices.

“We believe that the improvised explosive devices used in the latest bombings were assembled by local bombers under the supervision of their JI trainers,” the official added.

Meantime, a soldier and two militiamen were wounded when renegade Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels detonated two roadside bombs in Mamasapano, Maguindanao yesterday morning. – With Jaime Laude, Ramil Bajo, Edith Regalado, John Unson

AILEEN ANCATAN

BANGLADESHI MUHAMMAD ALPARIZ

BARANGAY KALAWAG

BARANGAY TAPAYAN

BASIT USMAN

BENHUR MONGAO

DATU NASTURA

DIEGO SITTI HONORATA

EASTERN MINDANAO COMMAND

EDITH REGALADO

SULTAN KUDARAT

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