COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Five people were wounded in an explosion that rocked North Cotabato’s Kabacan town Friday night, even as bomb experts foiled another bombing plot by defusing a roadside bomb found along a busy road here.
Senior Inspector Joseph Semillano, chief of the Kabacan municipal police, said the improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated with the use of a mobile phone.
Semillano said the IED was left by two men riding on a motorcycle in front of a roadside store owned by trader Rey Gellana.
Gellana survived the bombing unscathed but five people near the entrance of his establishment – Elsa Araes, 42, Razel Bigwas, 18, Jovelyn Jaro, 19, Darwin Galas, 40, and Renato Mendoza, 21, all residents of Barangay Poblacion, Kabacan – were badly wounded.
The bombing was the seventh in Kabacan since November.
The incident occurred just as operatives of the Army’s 6th Ordnance and Explosives Battalion defused a roadside bomb found by a passerby along Gutierrez Avenue.
Col. Leopoldo Galon, spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the IEDs were fashioned from two cartridges of 81 mortar shells.
The spot where the IED was found is not far from the 32-hectare compound of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where Army ordnance experts also defused three IEDs three days ago.
Meanwhile, local police yesterday arrested three members of a Moro rebel front tagged as behind the recent spate of bombings in the city.
Senior Superintendent Danny Reyes, director of the Cotabato City police, said policemen and Marine combatants manning a checkpoint in Barangay Poblacion I, cornered Datukan Lontok Samad and his cohorts, Guiamelon Pangako and Eliseo Lamayo.
Samad is also known as “Commander Lastikman,” who is wanted for heinous offenses, including multiple murders and highway robberies in North Cotabato’s adjoining Pikit, Aleosan and Kabacan towns.
Samad has also been implicated in the bombings of business establishments and buses in Central Mindanao in recent months.
Authorities seized fragmentation grenades, a handgun and their motorcycle from the suspects, who even tried to evade when pulled over for inspection. – With Jaime Laude - By John Unson