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ILIGAN, Philippines – The dead man found near a bombed transmission tower of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Lanao del Norte was a member of a terrorist group behind the 2017 Marawi Siege, the military confirmed on Thursday, October 27.
Brigadier General Rey Alemania, commander of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, identified the dead man as Mocame Basher a.k.a. Abu Janah and Abu Turab, an alleged member of the Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group.
Alemania said investigators were able to validate Basher’s identity using the military’s database.
The body was found near the toppled NGCP Tower No. 8 in Kauswagan town, Lanao del Norte, on Monday, October 24.
Its bombing cut one of the NGCP lines that distributes electricity to the Zamboanga Peninsula, Misamis Occidental, and parts of Lanao del Norte, resulting in long hours of rolling blackouts.
Basher’s death remained a mystery as of this posting, although authorities said he may have died in the explosions.
Police said he was a suspect in the NGCP tower bombing.
Authorities said investigators were still trying to find out if Basher was alone or if he had companions who exploded crude bombs to topple down the tower.
The military revelation sparked fears that terrorists have become active again in the Lanao provinces, five years after the fighting that left the predominantly Muslim Marawi City in shambles in 2017.
Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado called for a thorough investigation into the military’s claim.
Arnado said he doubted that a terrorist group was behind Monday’s bombing, pointing out that the damaged tower was merely a walking distance from a community with a right-of-way dispute with the NGCP.
“It could be that there are people there who want us to believe that it was the handiwork of Dawlah Islamiyah when truth is they have claims with the NGCP,” he said.
Still, Arnado said, investigators should look deeper into the military’s claim so the local government would know whether or not to call on residents to be vigilant against terrorists.
Meanwhile, the NGCP announced that it restored on Wednesday, October 26, the 138-kiloVolt line that was cut off as a result of Monday’s bombing.
NGCP said it dismantled the damaged tower and put in place an emergency restoration system, less than 36 hours after the bombing. – Rappler.com