De Lima concerned over rise of ‘IED bombings’ in Mindanao

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed deep concern over the surge of attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by insurgent groups in Mindanao despite the extended period of Martial Law in the region.

De Lima said the government forces should step up their efforts in countering the IED threats and preventing these attacks from escalating in Mindanao aimed at harming the security forces and civilians in the region.

“The presence of foreign fighters who are training their local recruits in bomb-making is a serious cause of alarm, and unless it is stopped, it might result to further terrorist violence to spread across Mindanao,” she said.

“Our government should not ignore this concern, but instead run after those training local jihadists and those funding the manufacture of IEDs, and implement measures to stop them from launching bigger attacks,” she added.

In the last quarter of 2017, according to local media reports, there were 10 attempted IED attacks by armed groups in Mindanao, nine of the devices have reportedly detonated, killing four individuals and injuring 30 others.

During the first quarter of this year, the number of attempted attacks has reportedly doubled to 19, with 15 of the devices exploding, resulting in four deaths and 25 injuries.

According to news reports, such trend has continued in April and May, with another 16 attempted attacks since the beginning of April injuring at least 24 people.

Security officials pointed to the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangasamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and the New People’s Army (NPA) to be responsible for the surge of violent IED attacks in the region since the Marawi siege.

The Senator from Bicol also expressed concern over reports that the influx of ISIS-trained bomb-makers prior to the Marawi siege was facilitated by “lax security” in the porous maritime boundaries surrounding Mindanao.

“Our authorities need to increase their efforts in detecting suspicious activities in our maritime boundaries to prevent foreign fighters from transporting IED components and bomb-making materials,” she said.

De Lima noted the government has failed to safeguard the lives of innocent individuals affected by this guerilla-style tactics now being reportedly adopted by foreign fighters and other local insurgent groups.

The former justice secretary said that with Mindanao under an extended period of martial law until the end of 2018, it is not surprising that armed groups will succumb to the use of IEDs to launch attacks in the region and make their presence felt.

“The alarming part is that there could be more of this kind of violent terrorist incidents–or, even worse–in the coming days if we fail to address the issue head-on,” she said.

AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence Major General Fernando Trinidad has reportedly confirmed that rebels were still able to regroup by recruiting local fighters in Mindanao who were trained by foreign fighters from Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt on urban warfare and construction of IEDs.

He also confirmed that members of the ISIS-inspired Maute group or Daulah Islamiyah could disturbingly “replicate the siege of Marawi in other areas in Mindanao,” and even conduct bombing especially in populated areas like Metro Manila.

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