By Joseph Jubelag and Martin Sadongdong
TACURONG CITY, Sultan Kudarat – Security forces were believed to have foiled a bomb attack meant to disrupt the celebration of this province’s Kalimudan Festival after they neutralized two suspected bombers in a shootout here on Monday.
Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, regional police spokesperson, identified the slain suspects as Badrudin Buan Singgol, and Esmael Montak Kusain, both residents of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao and alleged members of the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Gonzales said the suspects, aboard a multi-cab, figured in a shootout with policemen who had earlier flagged them down along the national highway in Barangay ECJ Montilla at dawn Monday.
Police said they had earlier received an intelligence report bombers were on their way to Isulan town to sow terror during the festival.
But instead of yielding at the checkpoint, the suspects drew their guns and fired at the authorities, triggering a brief chase that led to the bloody encounter.
Police seized a 9mm pistol with markings of PNP property, a 9mm KG9 sub-machine pistol and an improvised explosive device.
Gonzales said police investigators are looking into the possible involvement of the two suspects in the spate of bomb attacks in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat last August 28 and September 2 which killed at least four people and 50 others wounded.
Police authorities have tagged the IS-BIFF local terror group as responsible for the attacks.
Police and military authorities have tightened security at the provincial capitol complex in Isulan amid the ongoing Kalimudan festival which opened on November 17 until November 22.
The killing of the suspects was also timed on the day of the arrival of former Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go who was going to inaugurate a “Malasakit Center” at the provincial capitol Monday afternoon.