Koronadal mayor: no public gatherings in the meantime

Mayor Fernando Miguel said he issued a directive to officials of the city’s 27 barangays and other concerned groups in the city to forego all scheduled activities in open public places to thwart any attempts by alleged “terrorist groups” to launch attacks, especially bombings.

A bomb exploded in neighboring Tacurong City on Tuesday noon, injuring four. Eight hours later, another bomb exploded in Makilala City, which was celebrating its 52nd foundation day, killing six and injuring 32 others. On Wednesday noon, a similar bomb, crafted from 81-mm mortar shells, and improvised with battery power and cellular phone-controlled timing devices, exploded in Cotabato City but no one was injured.

“I encourage everybody instead to help us monitor the situation by reporting any suspicious movements or activities of some people,” the mayor told reporters this morning.

Miguel confirmed that the city has continued to receive bombing threats from “terrorists” whom police and military authorities linked to the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah, a group allegedly with links to Al Qaeda.

Miguel said police and military units based in the city already tightened their security operations in the area since the fresh threats came out several weeks ago.

“We’ve been maintaining a high level of security here and we even augmented it with some mechanisms to ensure that we will all be safe here,” he said.

The mayor said the city police office, elements from the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion and civilian volunteer groups have been patrolling the city on a 24-hour basis.

He said the city police also activated at least three hotline numbers so residents could immediately report any suspicious movements of some persons and the presence of unattended belongings.

“Don’t hesitate to immediately call our police even if you are unsure of  the situation,” he added.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes has also directed officials of the 10 municipalities of the province to carefully evaluate their security situation before holding any public gathering.
“We’re closely watching some activities here in Koronadal and also in Surallah because these could be the possible targets of these terrorists,” she said.

She said local authorities should learn from the Tuesday evening bomb attack in Makilala, which happened while the town was celebrating its 52nd foundation

But Fuentes assured that the police and military units in the area are doing their best to avert any violent incident in the province. She said the provincial peace and order council activated its anti-terrorism plan that involves several classified security mechanisms.

Fuenter added they are planning to deploy more bomb-sniffing K-9s in this city to add to the three dogs it earlier acquired. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)