BULUAN, Maguindanao — Police and military authorities here Friday foiled an attempt by what it described as saboteurs to disrupt the joyful celebration of Maguindanao foundation anniversary.

The powerful bomb was safely defused by Army bomb experts, according to Army Lt. Colonel Ricky Bunayog.

Bunayog, 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, said the powerful improvised bomb was made of 81 mm mortar with an alarm clock as trigger mechanism. It was placed inside a black backpack and left in front of the provincial risk reduction and management office in Poblacion Buluan.

Civilians noticed the black backpack left close to the disaster office at about 8 a.m. They quickly alerted the Buluan Police Office and soldiers of the 33rd IB providing security during the “Sagayan Festival” (celebration of successes and blessings of Maguindanaons).

Bunayog said soldiers immediately cordoned off the area while waiting for Army bomb experts.

The IED was safely disrupted and defused.

No one has claimed responsibility but Bunayog said the bomb has the signature of lawless Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who are the subject of military law enforcement operation in nearby Datu Salibo town, about 30 kilometers west of Buluan town.

Bunayog told reporters he believed the attempt was meant to disrupt the 5th Sagayan Festival in celebration of Maguindanao’s foundation anniversary.

Several festive activities have been on going in the capitol grounds when the IED was discovered.

Bunayog lauded the civilians who found the IED and for quickly informing authorities.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu condemned the attempt and called on everyone to stay on alert.

He also appealed to the bombers to do away with the un-Islamic practice and instead join the celebration peacefully. PNA/