Extortion behind Kidapawan blast

But a cellphone user who identified himself as a member of Al Khobar, an extortionist group, called
Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco several times shortly before the explosion, said Supt. Leo Ajero, head of the Cotabato Provincial Bomb Data Center. The mayor, however, did not answer the calls because no name showed up in his phone book.

“After the missed calls came a number of text messages,” Ajero said, adding that the Al Khobar was sending a signal to the mayor that the explosion was the first, and that they intend to launch more attacks “if the mayor would not give in to their demands.”

Ajero was certain extortion was behind the latest explosion.

Gatela said that minutes before the explosion, he also received a text message from an anonymous cellphone user that said the town of Midsayap and Kidapawan City would be bombed.

Operatives of the Army’s Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team said the IED was placed inside a cellophane and was left at a pavilion a few meters away from a carenderia owned by Apyong Redoblado.

Redoblado said he thought the explosion was just a firecracker and was surprised to learn that it was supposedly a very powerful bomb.

The IED was reportedly left by two unidentified men on board a motorcycle.

Authorities have yet to ascertain as to who was behind the latest blast. But Ajero said that Musali Cado, a suspected bomber who escaped prison last January 4, could be among those who could have masterminded the explosion.

Arrested March last year, Cado is facing several murder and frustrated murder cases in connection with a number of bombing incidents in Kidapawan City and in other areas in central Mindanao. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)