KIDAPAWAN CITY – A heightened alert had been declared by the North Cotabato police for possible retaliatory attacks by the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), after one of its sub-leaders and two of his men were killed in recent clashes in Midsayap, North Cotabato, a police official said Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Bernard Tayong, speaking for the North Cotabato police office, said Col. Maximo Layugan, provincial police director, has ordered all town police stations to maintain a heightened alert status and secure all places of convergence like churches following the foiled bombing of a chapel in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat.
Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found by civilians in front and beside a Catholic chapel in Barangay Pimbalayan, Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat on Monday.
Army and police bomb experts’ safety deactivated the IEDs.
Tayong said that while the Lenten Season is over, police in North Cotabato maintained its alert status to thwart any destabilization or diversionary attack by the BIFF after three of its members were killed during police and military law enforcement operations in Barangay Olandang, Midsayap on Black Saturday.
“We have learned the lesson in the past, whenever there are major operations, the rebels use diversionary attacks like bombings, ambuscades and other attacks versus civilians or soft targets like police stations,” Tayong said in a radio interview.
On April 20, government troopers killed Mando Mamamlompong alias Abu Amer, erstwhile spokesperson of the BIFF – Karialan faction, and two other radicals during an encounter in Barangay Olandang.
Currently, additional police checkpoints have been set up, especially in the borders of North Cotabato and Maguindanao, where the BIFF terrorists are often spotted.
Tayong said the alert status will continue until the election period is over in June. (PNA)