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Blast plunges 3 Mindanao Provinces into darkness

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Kidapawan City -- The provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao in Central Mindanao were plunged into darkness shortly before 8 o’clock last night after an improvised explosive device blew up Tower 141 of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Barangay Kayaga, Kabacan, North Cotabato.

 

Capt. Antonio Bulao, spokesman of the 602nd Infantry Brigade, said they suspect members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to be behind the bombing. Bulao said after the blast the 138KV line connecting Bukidnon to Cotabato City and the 138KV line connecting North Cotabato to Sultan Kudarat also tripped off.

Before the Tower 141 blast, Bulao said power lines in the town of Tulunan in North Cotabato were also strafed by suspected members of the BIFF.

Military and police units in North Cotabato were earlier placed on red alert following reports that BIFF rebels were planning to harass the villages.

 

MNLF’s Last Stand

Earlier in the day, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding Chairman Nur P. Misuari’s highly trusted followers in the Zamboanga City standoff sought prayers as they brace for a last stand against government forces after today’s prayers (Juama’ah), expressing their readiness to die.

This information is contained in a text message in Tausug dialect sent out yesterday. It reportedly came from MNLF Commander Ustadz Khabier Malik, who is still holding out in the embattled city.

“We are already prepared and complete with our white attire that we are going to wear. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,” the text message added.

Among Muslims, the dead is buried with a white cloth, not black as is practiced among Christians.

 

6 Killed In Clashes

Malik’s men have been battling the military and police forces since Sept. 9, and sporadic encounters continued yesterday, the standoff’s 18th day, killing three Moro guerrillas.

But the same operation in Barangay Rio Hondo resulted in the death of three soldiers and wounding of six others, according to Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief military information officer.

 

45 MNLF Men Surrender

Also yesterday, 45 more MNLF fighters surrendered to the military, bringing to 83 the number of MNLF men who had surrendered to the military in less than 24 hours.

Zagala said the military continues to conduct clearing operations in areas where these MNLFs are. They also rescued six hostages. (With reports from Edd K. Usman, Aaron B. Recuenco, Nonoy E. Lacson, and Alexander D. Lopez)

Malik’s message being spread through text was translated into English by Julmunir Jannaral, a Tausug journalist with PTV4.

“Please pray for us so that we can live up to the coming Friday (Sept. 27) because after we have prayed for Friday prayer, we will continue or push through to bring the jihad fi sabilillah to the battle front,” Malik’s message stated.

A member of the MNLF, who requested anonymity, said he’s 90 percent sure the message came from Malik.

Poison Gas

As Malik’s men prepare for their last stand, lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, MNLF Group spokesman, accused the government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of using poison gas in their recent bombing operations in Zamboanga City.

Interviewed yesterday afternoon, Fontanilla said they received complaints from their combatants that military planes dropped poison gas in their recent air raids.

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