DAVAO MILF BOMBER DIED IN BLAST   

Davao City, March 6, 2003 -- Defense officials today identified a young Moro separatist guerrilla behind the bombing of the Davao airport as Muntazer Sudang, 23, a resident of Kabacan town. The 23-year-old Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel, who was among the dead, carried a backpack containing the explosives that blasted through the airport's waiting terminal.

"He was the bomb carrier," said Defense spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Danilo Servando, adding the bomb may have "prematurely exploded."

It was not immediately clear if the suspect planned to leave the package in the airport or if he planned to die in the attack.

Evidence of the bomber's identity were recovered from the blast site, which investigators then cross-checked on a roster of MILF recruits that was recovered by a military unit following a clash in Kabacan with an MILF band sometime in 2000, defense department records show.

The government earlier detained 20 people following the airport blast, including five they suspected of having links to the Davao bombers.

Sundang had apparently joined the MILF soon after he turned 16.

Defense department documents said he was probably attached to a Davao-area MILF unit that is led by a man called Jibran Ali bin Davao.

Meanwhile, police sources in Davao named Mastura Gumawan, the senior leader of the MILF forces in the Cotabato region that includes Kabacan, as the one who "directed" the Davao attack.

The 12,500-member MILF, waging a 25-year campaign for an Islamic state in the Mindanao region, has denied any hand in the blast.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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