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Military: 2 dead, 9 hurt in Cotabato City blast

August 2, 2011 4:22pm
(Updated 6:17 p.m.) Two people were killed and at least nine others were wounded when an improvised explosive device went off in Cotabato City on Tuesday afternoon, a Mindanao-based military official said.

Col. Prudencio Asto, the public affairs officer of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, identified one of the fatalities as Jimmy Ali. He said one of the fatalities could be the child who was brought to the hospital following the blast.

"Yung bata kasi 50-50 na nung dinala sa ospital," he said in a phone interview.

Local police authorities in Cotabato City said the blast happened near the Yuan Pharmacy and Diagnostic Laboratory and the CWAT Guns and Ammunition Store along Quezon Avenue at about 2:10 p.m.

Authorities said most of the victims were passengers of a red Toyota Townace vehicle.

Investigators said the bomb was placed on a motorcycle that was parked outside the pharmacy store.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack as of posting time, but past bombing incidents in the south had usually been carried out by the Abu Sayyaf, a group of Islamic fundamentalists with links to the al Qaeda terrorist network.

Asto, however, said linked the bombing to the Jemaah Islamiyah. "This is a handiwork of the group of Basit Usman, a special operations group of the Jemaah Islamiyah," he said.

The explosion occurred on the second day of Ramadan, but the military said the attack will not affect the observance of the Islamic Holy Month.

Hindi naman siguro kasi isolated [incident] naman ito," said Lt. Gen. Arthur Tabaquero, commander of the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command, when asked if the attack would affect the observance of Ramadan.

Police Director Felicisimo Khu of the Philippine National Police’s Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao said the CWAT gun store was reportedly owned by a certain Martinez, who is said to be a friend of the Ampatuans, a clan implicated in the Nov. 2009 massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao province. GMA News Online, however, has yet to independently confirm this as of posting time.

In Manila, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. identified four of the wounded victims as Nancy Lagamon, Datu Ike Karudin, Delio Tomandag, and Cherry Danosniya. They were rushed to the Cotabato Medical Center for treatment.

Other victims were identified as Bryan Go, a security guard of the pharmacy; Nestor Luna; and a certain Kauras, who are all currently being treated at the Cotabato City Medical Specialist Hospital.

An investigation by operatives from the Explosives and Ordnance Division and Scene of the Crime Operation from the regional police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is still on going, Cruz said.

Cotabato City administrator Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi has already appealed to bystanders to stay away from the area as the possibility of another IED explosion is high.

"For your sake, please don’t gather around the site. Leave the place as soon as possible," Sayadi said in an interview aired over Catholic-ran dxMS in Cotabato City.

Investigators have yet to determine who could be behind the explosion. — with Malu Cadelina Manar/KBK, GMA News
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