The military got wind of a planned terror attack in the south weeks before a van allegedly loaded with explosives blew up at a security checkpoint in Basilan, an official said Thursday.
Tuesday's explosion occurred moments after soldiers and paramilitary troopers flagged down a vehicle allegedly loaded with improvised explosive devices at a security checkpoint in Lamitan town.
"We've been informed and we've been tracking the terrorist groups here and of course, we've heightened our alert level a few weeks ago. We knew that this is coming," said Col. Gerry Besana, spokesperson of the military's Western Mindanao Command.
"We consider it a success in preventing them from launching the attack in an area populated with so many civilians," he added.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombing attack, which it called "a martyrdom operation".
Military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo, however, said security forces were investigating and there was no basis yet to conclude that the incident was a suicide bombing or had been carried out by a foreigner.
With a report from Reuters
ANC, 2 August 2018