AFP downplays alleged ISIS hand in deadly Basilan blast


Posted at Aug 01 2018 01:13 PM

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MANILA - There is strong evidence that a weakened Abu Sayyaf group was behind the van blast that killed 10 people in Basilan, the military said Wednesday, downplaying claims by the Islamic State that they are behind the bombing.

Col. Edgardo Arevalo, spokesman of the Armed Forces, said they are not discounting the possibility that the ISIS group had a hand in the blast but all the evidence they have gathered points to the Abu Sayyaf group led by Furuji Indama.

"It's easy for any terrorist group to claim responsibility for the blast. But as we said, if you jump on it, it's like we're aiding them in their propaganda," the military official told ANC, adding that ISIS has a habit of claiming responsibility for attacks they did not do.

"Basing from persistent information we've been obtaining, we have reason to say that indeed the evidence point to the members of the Abu Sayyaf," he said, adding that the group's members have already resorted to extorting money for their supplies.

He also said that there is still no basis to say that the lone driver of the van was a foreigner.

At least 10 people, including the driver, a soldier, paramilitary troops, and civilians were killed after a bomb loaded in a van exploded at a security checkpoint in Lamitan, Basilan early Tuesday morning.