Charged were Hassan Mahaliden Sulaik, 19, of Barangay Nuangan here, and Alex Takulin Sanduyugan, 20, of Barangay Rajamuda, Pikit, North Cotabato.
The two suspects were in the group of curious onlookers when they went beyond the police line. The police accosted them and arrested them shortly.
Chief Supt. Felizardo Serapio, regional PNP director for Central Mindanao, said they recovered a baggage tag from the two, which he said would be the primary proof against them.
Both denied the allegations.
In an interview, Sulaik said he was in the area to fetch his girlfriend who works as saleslady at the KMCC Mall. He said his cousin Sanduyugan accompanied him.
“Malinis ang konsiyensiya namin. Wala kaming intensiyon na manakit ng kapwa namin (We have clean conscience. We do not intend to hurt others),” Sulaik said.
Investigations, however, revealed a different angle, according to Serapio.
Members of the Cotabato Task Force and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team of the Kidapawan City PNP claimed they found a chemical used to manufacture an incendiary bomb from Sulaik’s house in Barangay Nuangan.
Sulaik, they also said, was a relative of a suspected bomber arrested few months ago in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat. Serapio said the explosive could have been manufactured in Sulaik’s house.
The Alcobar group, suspected for the kidnap-for-ransom activities, was believed behind the recent mall blast, according to Kidapawan City Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco. He said one of its leaders called him up Thursday morning and warned him that a bomb would explode anytime and anywhere in the city if he still would refuse to give them the money they were asking.
The group was reportedly asking half a million pesos as protection money every month from the city government.
Gantuangco said the group told him they were responsible for the October 5 twin blast in the city that killed a 10-year old girl and wounded 39 others.
“I know how serious they were. But I won’t heed their demands,” he stressed.
Serapio said the Alcobar group surfaced early this year at the height of bus bombings in central Mindanao. Two of the bus companies plying along the Cotabato-Davao route became targets of their bombing activities. Bus company owners told authorities the group was extorting money from them. (MindaNews)