ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Updated 3:34 p.m.) — The military has locked down Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat after a second deadly bombing there on Sunday night that left two dead and 15 wounded.

Ground forces have also been directed to conduct relentless operations against groups believed to be behind the blasts. 

Police and military officials have said the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters are behind the bombings.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the military Western Mindanao Command, said troops have been sent to Isulan to guard entry and exit points around the capital of Sultan Kudarat province.
“Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Central, announced that they have locked down Isulan last night,” Besana said.

The explosion, the second bombing in the same week, hit an internet café past at Barangay Kalawag 2 on Sunday evening. The blast initially left one person killed and 15 wounded.

The explosion occurred a few hundred meters away from where an improvised bomb exploded last Tuesday, killing three and leaving 34 others injured.

Besana said Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Westmincom chief, has ordered troops in Central Mindanao to run after the perpetrators of the bombings.

Dela Vega has gone to Isulan town to oversee security measures there. The Westmincom commander will also visit the blast victims to personally extend his sympathy.

Police in the region have heightened security against similar attacks, Chief Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo, deputy director of Police Regional Office 9, said.

De Ocampo said the PNP leadership issued a directive Sunday night for all police units to raise their alert levels.

He said police will conduct stop-and-frisk operations at checkpoints.

All leaves have been cancelled while the PNP remains on red alert.

Classes suspended

Meanwhile, Mayor Marites Palasigue has suspended classes in all schools in Isulan indefinitely.

Palasigue told reporters the suspension of classes is necessary for authorities to freely search for the bombers in all barangays in the municipality.

“I have appealed to my constituents to help authorities identify the culprits,” she said on Monday morning. — with a report by The STAR’s John Unson in Sultan Kudarat