COTABATO CITY (PNA) – Army operatives neutralized early Wednesday a suspected bomber, and deactivated a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) along the national highway in Datu Montawal, Maguindanao.
Elements of the Army’s 90th Infantry Battalion (90IB), acting on intelligence information that an IED was being transported from Pikit to Kabacan, both in North Cotabato, set up checkpoints along the road starting at 1 a.m.
In a report to the Army’s Sixth Infantry Division (6ID), Lt. Col. Michael Maquelan, 90IB commander, said at 3 a.m., two men riding a motorbike were flagged down at an Army checkpoint in Datu Montawal, but they ignored law enforcers and sped away.
“The Army chased the two men but they traded shots with our troops,” Lt. Col. Anhouvic Atilano, 6ID spokesperson, said in a radio interview.
One of the two men fell in the exchange of gunfire while his cohort, the one driving the motorbike, escaped under cover of darkness.
The slain man had a bag that contained a powerful improvised bomb. Also recovered from him was a .45-caliber pistol.
Atilano said the slain bomber was later identified only as alias “Abu Master” who belonged to the Bungos faction of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
He said the suspected bombers might have planned to bring the IED to Kabacan or Kidapawan City and other populated areas in North Cotabato.
The disarmed explosive was made out of a rifle grenade explosive with a blasting mechanism loaded with cut nails and metal sheets that served as shrapnel.
Bomb experts said the IED was to be set off using a mobile phone.