Army blames MILF for blasts

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE military yesterday blamed a rogue commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the bombings of two shopping malls in Iligan City Thursday.

The twin blasts killed two people and wounded 45 others, the Philippine National Police said.

Both the military and the PNP have been receiving warnings of shopping malls and other public places in Iligan City for the past two weeks.

In a radio interview, Col. Nicanor Dolojan, head of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Division, said bomb fragments recovered from the blast scene had the MILF’s “signature.”

“This bomb is similar to the explosives they used before,” Dolojan said in an interview on DWIZ radio.

He said the explosives in Thursday’s blasts involved an 81-mm mortar that used a cellular phone as detonating device.

Dolojan pointed to the group led by rogue Commander Bravo, who led attacks in Mindanao last August after the Supreme Court blocked a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD).

Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz was said to be among the vocal opponents to the signing of the MOA-AD.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard yesterday ordered tightened security in ports and aboard vessels, in the wake of the Iligan City bombings which came a day before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo visit the place.

Coast Guard commandant, Vice Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo, also ordered closer coordination with other agencies to prevent a repeat of the bombing.

He ordered constant contact with the Philippine Ports Authority and Maritime Industry Authority to make sure the bombers do not get to Metro Manila or other parts of the country.

Also, Tamayo ordered increased vigilance by sea marshals aboard passenger ships. Sea marshal teams have members from the Coast Guard, Navy, and Philippine National Police Maritime Group.

In another development, police said Cruz reported that security cameras at one store captured images of a man and woman suspected of depositing the bag that contained the bomb.