Suspected Philippine militant dies in bomb blast at southern electricity tower

Richel V. Umel
2022.10.25
Kauswagan, Philippines
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Suspected Philippine militant dies in bomb blast at southern electricity tower Filipino troops secure a collapsed National Grid Corp. transmission tower after it was bombed by a suspected militant, who was killed in the explosion, in Kauswagan, southern Philippines, Oct. 25, 2022.
Richel V. Umel/BenarNews

Updated at 10:17 p.m. ET on 2022-10-26

An explosion killed a suspected militant in the southern Philippines when an improvised bomb he was planting at a power transmission tower blew up prematurely, the military said Tuesday.

The blast occurred at a tower of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) near the town of Kauswagan in Lanao del Norte province on Monday afternoon, said Brig. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, commander of Army forces in the area.

“The initial assessment of the EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] teams was that a 60mm mortar was used as the primary explosive to topple the tower,” Nafarrete said, adding that there were two explosives, and that the suspect apparently “prematurely triggered” the bomb.

Security personnel dispatched to check on the cause of the blast discovered the suspect’s remains, Nafarrete said.

Beth Ladaga, a spokeswoman for the NGCP, said the explosion “toppled the steel tower and caused power interruptions in parts of Mindanao.” She was referring to the main southern third of the Philippines, which has long been afflicted by various insurgencies, including by Muslim militant groups.

Power interruptions affected the entire Zamboanga peninsula, including Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga City, and the entire Misamis Occidental province, and parts of Lanao del Norte.

The suspect’s affiliation was still being investigated, but when reporters asked the military if the Daulah Islamiyah (DI) group, which is known to operate in the area, might be involved, officials said, it was “possible.” DI is the Filipino name of the Islamic State militant group.

Joint police and military anti-terror teams are investigating the attack, which occurred shortly after the fifth anniversary of the end of the militant siege of Marawi city.

In 2017, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern members of the Islamic State laid siege to the lakeshore city in hopes of making it into their caliphate in the region. Five months of battles destroyed the city, but also pushed back the militants. Some 1,200 militants, soldiers and civilians were killed in the violence.

“Rest assured that we will heighten our security operations and stay on guard against the malefactors that hamper the stability in our area of operation,” said Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, the acting chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga city.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato City, southern Philippines, contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: This report has been updated to correct that Kauswagan is in Lanao del Norte, not Lanao del Sur.

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