Abu Sayyaf Group eyed as suspects behind Basilan explosion — military

Published May 31, 2022, 3:20 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was among the suspects being investigated by the military behind one of the two explosions that jolted Isabela City, Basilan on Monday, May 30.

An explosion rips through the D’Biel Bus Terminal in Isabela City, Basilan on May 30, 2022. The incident injired two individuals. (Photo courtesy of Western Mindanao Command)

Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said security was tightened in Isabela City following the twin blasts as probers sift through closed circuit television (CCTV) footages that may pinpoint who the culprits are behind the explosion at D’ Biel Bus Terminal in Brgy. La Piedad around 6:15 p.m.

Two individuals were hurt in the incident, including Evangelyn Gudilla Francisco, a storekeeper at the bus terminal, who sustained injuries after being hit by debris. The other victim was a security guard who sustained grazed wounds.

Prior to this, an explosion also occurred inside a fast food chain in the nearby Brgy. Isabela Proper although investigators said it was caused by a faulty electrical wiring.

“We are eyeing ASG as the suspect [in the terminal explosion] although we really have no official report yet right now as to who the perpetrators were and what their motive was,” Rosario said.

The WestMinCom chief said ASG was already a “weakened” group in Basilan but he acknowledged their capability to conduct isolated attacks “to remain significant.”

“They only have very few members so they are probably trying to remain significant if indeed they are the culprits,” Rosario noted. He did not provide details as to the number of ASG members operating in Basilan.

Aside from ASG, the military is also considering “extortionists” as possible suspects to the blast. He said the military was working with the police to identify and arrest the suspects as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Rosario said the explosion in Basilan was not connected to the twin blasts that occurred in Koronadal City, South Cotabato days prior.

Last Thursday, May 26, a passenger bus from Yellow Bus Line (YBL) Inc. was rocked by an explosion while travelling to Koronadal City from Tacurong City. It was followed by another explosion near the Tacurong City bus terminal in Brgy. Calean.

“These are not related because days before the [Koronadal] explosions, the military conducted a focus operation against [Abu] Turaife. We suspect that they retaliated and tried to divert our attention,” Rosario said.

Turaife is the leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah (DI) terrorist group in Mindanao. Rosario said their focus operations against Turaife’s group resulted in the death of two suspected terrorists.