MANILA, Philippines – A pro-Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group was behind the bomb attack that wounded at least 8 people in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat province on Saturday, September 7, the region’s military commander said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana told a media forum in Manila on Monday, September 9, that the Dawlah Islamiyah Torayfie Group (DITG) had planted the improvised explosive device (IED) at a parking space for motorcycles near Isulan’s public market.
The IED went off at past 7 am. The casualties were brought to nearby hospitals.
The DITG, led by Esmael Abdulmalik a.k.a. Abu Torayfie, is a breakaway group of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which had splintered from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – the largest Moro armed group that has sealed a peace deal with the government and is in position to govern the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The attack happened on the same day as the first mass decommissioning or disarmament of MILF combatants in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao province, about 96 kms away from Isulan.
“Honestly, they are now becoming weak,” Sobejana said of the DITG, whose strongholds in the area of Liguasan marsh have been targets of recent military operations.
The attacks were the group's way of drawing attention to itself after suffering setbacks in encounters with government forces, he added.
“The bombings that they had perpetrated…were manifestations that they could not fight face to face with our soldiers,” Sobejana said, citing other attacks attributed to the DITG.
A bomb attack on August 28, 2018 happened as Isulan celebrated the Hamungaya Festival. The blast killed at least 3 people and injured 36 others.
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.