MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Maute Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) may be behind the recent bombing incident that hurt over 30 people in a Leyte town plaza.
Lorenzana said in an interview with reporters on Friday, December 30, that based on initial reports, there’s a “big possibility” that the two groups have formed a “tactical alliance” to divert the focus of the military on operations in Mindanao.
“May suspetsa na itong dalawang ito – Maute at BIFF – parang meron silang alliance nang konti. Siguro nagbibigayan sila ng technology sa paggawa ng bomba,” the defense chief said.
(We suspect that these two – Maute and the BIFF – have some sort of an alliance. They may be sharing technology on making bombs.)
He said the improvised explosive devices used in Leyte – 81-millimeter mortar rounds detonated through a cellular phone – “bears the trademark of the BIFF.”
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa had earlier given the same assessment.
In a separate interview with PTV4 on Friday, Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año assured the public that there is “no actual threat in Manila.”
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that while he believed that sympathizers of the Islamic State (ISIS) are behind the bombings in Mindanao, he suspected that the Leyte blast was related to illegal drugs.
The President, who visited the blast victims in Hilongos town on Friday had also said that the Maute group was linked to the illegal drug trade.
Authorities had tagged the Maute group as behind the Davao City night market bombing in September. – Rappler.com
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