Saturday, August 10, 2013

Reports on Manila bomb missions refuted -

Manila: The presidential palace on Saturday warned Filipinos against spreading rumours that a rogue faction of Moro rebels have arrived in Metro Manila and are poised to conduct bombing attacks in the capital region.

"Let's be careful about reports like this. Let's make sure that it comes from the correct sources because we don't want to be spreading incorrect information," Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a government radio interview. "But suffice it to say that government will take steps to ensure that these plans will not take place," she said.

Earlier, it had been reported that a group of young members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) under the leadership of Ameril Umbr Kato are in Metro Manila for supposed "test missions", similar to attacks carried out in Mindanao recently.

A rash of bomb attacks targeting civilians had been reported in the cities of Cagayan De Oro and Cotabato City, resulting in several casualties while similar operations had been carried out by the BIFF on military forces in various parts of Central Mindanao, particularly Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

"It appears that these blast were randomly targeted. It's not about religion," she said.

She added that operations of the government security forces are ongoing to fend off attacks and protect the public.

Valte's warning concerning rumours of bombing plans in Metro Manila came amid reports that government forces and the BIFF are engaged in clashes in Central Mindanao.

Reports reaching Manila said three members of the BIFF were killed in an attack carried out by the group on an Army detachment in Pikit, North Cotabato.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division, said BIFF forces had tried to occupy the village of Bualan located in a portion of a strategic highway linking North Cotabato and Davao City.

"The BIFF are trying to control the highway but our forces were able to prevent them from doing so," Hermoso said.

As a result of the fighting, thousands of Moro residents were forced to flee their homes. They were evacuated to safer grounds.

Hermoso said the Philippine Army's 602nd brigade had fired 60 and 81 mm mortars and 105 howitzers to drive away the BIFF from capturing the highway.

The BIFF had split from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) three years ago. The government is engaged in peace negotiations with the MILF and had already initiated several important agreements in prelude of a final peace pact.
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