AFP not discounting IS role in Basilan blast

BASILAN BOMBING. An explosion occurred near the Magwakit Detachment in Barangay Colonia, Lamitan, Basilan, on July 31, 2018. Photo by Richard Falcatan/Rappler

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday said that they are not discounting the possibility of the Islamic State’s connection to the Basilan bomb explosion, after the terrorist group claimed to be responsible for the tragic incident.

AFP spokesperson Col. Edgardo Arevalo said, however, any organization “can conveniently claim responsibility and ride on the incident for their own glorification.

“Jumping into it will be like aiding their narrative and lending themselves as instruments of terrorists’ propaganda,” he said.

On Tuesday, Arevalo said the Abu Sayyaf was behind the explosion in Lamitan City, which left 11 people dead including one soldier, five militiamen, four civilians and the suspected bomber.

A van driven by a foreign-looking suspect was stopped at a military checkpoint early Tuesday, but it later blew up, raising suspicion that it was a case of suicide bombing. The military however said there was still no basis to conclude that it was a case of suicide bombing or it was carried out by a foreigner.

Hours after the incident, Reuters reported that the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

“We are not discounting the possibility that they are indeed responsible— just as there is also a possibility that other group besides the Abu Sayyaf Group could be responsible in that dastardly and cowardly act,” Arevalo said.  /muf