MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines believes that members of the terrorist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters are behind the fatal blast in Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday.
In a statement on Wednesday, the military also strongly condemned the explosion that killed two people in the town of Isulan and wounded at least 30 more.
"We believe that the terrorist group BIFF is the primary suspect behind this atrocity. They are the ones who have the strongest evil desire to initiate this kind of attacks that victimize innocent civilians and disrupt peace," the AFP said.
The BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which already signed a peace deal with the government in 2014.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the Abu Turaife group of the BIFF is claiming responsibility for the blast.
Albayalde said the group is also claiming that they are affiliated with the global terror network Islamic State, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, the Region 12 police director, said they have yet to confirm the BIFF's role in the explosion even as the group has long been a threat in the region.
"Public knowledge naman na ang enemy forces na nandito ngayon sa Region 12 'yun nga NPA (New People's Army), BIFF. At 'yung mga grupo na 'yun mag-eliminate pa kami kung sino sa kanila ang gumawa," he told ANC.
(It is public knowledge that our enemy forces here now in Region 12 are the NPA, BIFF. We will continue with the process of elimination to find out who between them was responsible.)
Gonzales believes the people behind the blast intentionally did it on Tuesday night when the people were out as the town was celebrating a festival.
Two more unexploded bombs were found near the municipal hall following the explosion. Authorities are still trying to determine the make of the bomb to help them identify the group behind the incident.
Authorities urged the residents of Sultan Kudarat to be vigilant and report to them any suspicious individuals or packages to avert similar incidents. -- with a report from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News