US vows anti-terror backing as hunt continues for Isulan festival bomber

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The scene of the bombing and a computer-generated sketch of the suspect.

The US has vowed to continue supporting anti-terror operations in the Philippines, especially in the light of the recent Sultan Kudarat bombing.

In a statement issued today (Sunday, September 2), US Embassy spokeswoman Molly Koscina said: “At the request of the government of the Philippines, US special operations forces continue to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Mindanao through support that increases intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.”

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Koscina did not specify what anti-terror support the Philippines could expect, but during the five-month siege of Marawi last year, the armed forces received drone and satellite intelligence from US personnel.

The Islamic State-affiliated Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have claimed responsibility for last Tuesday’s bomb attack that killed three people and wounded dozens of others.

Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said one of the groups was led by a certain Ismael, alias Bungos, who operated in the Maguindanao area.

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However, he declined to fully identify the two suspected BIFF leaders due to ongoing manhunt operations.

“We’re trying our best to capture them to give justice to the victims,” he added.

The Isulan bombing was the second terror incident claimed by local Islamic State affiliates after the suicide bombing last month that left 11 people dead in southern Basilan.

Chief Superintendent Eliseo Tam Rasco, Cotabato regional police director, has released a computer-generated sketch of the bomber who made his escape shortly before the bomb, which targeted a local festival.

Rasco described the suspect as being 20-25 years old, about 5’6” tall, of medium build, weighing about 60 kilograms, and of fair complexion.

As we previously reported, a one-million peso bounty has been offered for his capture.

Superintendent Aldrin Gonzales, Cotabato regional police spokesman, emphasised that another computer-generated sketch of the suspect recently circulated online was a fake.

“That was done by somebody who wanted to muddle the investigation,” he said.

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