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AFP hails Basilan checkpoint troops: ‘They stopped IEDs heading to city at cost of their own lives’

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday condemned the bombing at a military checkpoint in Lamitan City, Basilan that left 10 people dead, but also praised the vigilance of the security personnel at the site.

"They have foiled an attempt to bring in a vehicle loaded with IEDs [improvised explosive devices] to downtown Lamitan City—at the cost of their own lives," said AFP chief-of-staff Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr. in a statement.

The blast happened Tuesday morning, moments after troops stopped a van and spoke to the driver, who was the vehicle's lone occupant, according to an official on the island of Basilan and a military incident report.

An explosion originating within the van killed one soldier, four members of the Philippine Army's Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and four civilian dependents of CAFGU. Reuters reports that two of the civilians were a woman and her child.

The driver of the van was also killed, bringing the total to 10.

Injured in the attack were one CAFGU and six members of the 9th Scout Ranger Company.

"While we commend our troops, we condemn in the highest possible terms this yet another dastardly attempt of terrorists to kill, maim, and injure innocent civilians," said AFP spokesperson Colonel Edgard Arevalo in the statement.

"The Commander, WesMinCom Lt. Gen. Arnel de la Vega, commits the resources under his command to thwart attempts by terrorists to disrupt the peace obtaining in Western Mindanao," Arevalo added.

The military vowed to hold accountable those behind the bombing incident.

"Local police and AFP personnel are not going to stop in the investigation and in pursuing every leads to identify and neutralize all those who are part of this abominable attempt by terrorists to kill innocent civilians and destroy properties," Arevalo said.

"These terrorists will not succeed given the strong collaboration between the military and the local government that draws strength from the active participation of Governor Mujjib Hattaman and other municipal mayors not only in Basilan but in the entire Western Mindanao," he added.

Arevalo also urged the public to report to the police and military any suspicious people or activities happening in their locality. — Anna Felicia Bajo/BM, GMA News