MANILA - A possible "failure of intelligence" may have led to the second deadly bombing in less than a week in the southern province of Sultan Kudarat, the Philippine National Police said Monday.
One person was killed and 15 were injured when a bomb ripped through an internet cafe in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat late Sunday. The was a short distance from where an improvised bomb under a motorcycle blew up on August 28, killing 3 and wounding dozens.
"We cannot discount that it may be a failure of intelligence but that would be subject in the conduct of the investigation by local authorities, also in coordination with other security forces in the area," said PNP spokesperson Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana.
Investigators are "looking at local terrorists as the ones responsible for this latest cowardly attack," and are piecing together witness accounts and physical evidence, he told ANC.
Aside from its location, police have yet to find a link between the incident and the first bombing, which was claimed by the Islamic State.
It was "highly likely" that the pro-IS Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) plotted the August 28 attack in retaliation for state offensives, the military earlier said.
MARTIAL LAW EXTENSION?
President Rodrigo Duterte put Mindanao under martial rule until the end of this year after pro-IS militants seized the southern city of Marawi last year.
Durana rejected speculations that the bombings were part of a plot to justify the extension of military rule in the area.
"This kind of incident, this kind of attack will not be coming from the government just to justify the extension of martial law. It's a stretch of an idea if you say that [in] this attack, the government is responsible," he said.
Police have intensified checkpoints and intelligence efforts in the south, he added.
The police chiefs of Sultan Kudarat province and Isulan town were also sacked over the bombings.
The Sultan Kudarat attacks follow the Duterte government enacting a law to create greater autonomy for the Muslim minority in the south and which is hoped will help end the decades-long conflict there.