2 hurt in Pikit blast

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / May 21) –- Two persons were wounded on Thursday night when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off while the victims were inside a rest house of a retired police officer in the town center of Pikit, North Cotabato.

Wounded were Angelo Angot, 17, and Roy Rojas, 34, both residents of Barangay Inug-ug in Pikit town. They were rushed to the Kidapawan Medical Specialist Center here for treatment.

Insp. Elias Dandan, chief of the Public Safety Office of the North Cotabato PNP, said the IED was planted outside the rest house owned by retired SPO4 Pablo Gonzales, a former member of the Pikit PNP.

The IED exploded at around 7:45 pm. Thursday inside the establishment located along Afdal St., in Poblacion.

Dandan said witnesses saw two motorcycle-riding men leaving a package outside Gonzales’s rest house. A few minutes later,  a brownout happened, then a loud explosion was heard.

Dandan, former chief of Pikit Municipal Police Station, hinted the bomb was intended for Gonzales.

“Gonzales, who used to be one of my men, was a staunch defender of Pikit during his PNP active years,” said Dandan.

Gonzales confirmed Dandan’s statement by saying the attack was the fifth since 2008.

The previous attacks were launched when he was still connected with the PNP.

Gonzales said there were two angles behind the blast.

First, he said, the explosion could be perpetrated by people or their relatives who were ‘hit’ when Gonzales launched pursuit operations against suspected criminals or lawless elements in Pikit town.

Second, was politics.

“Pinagdududahan nila na ako’y tatakbo bilang kapitan sa aming barangay ngayong Oktubre.  Lumulutang na ang report na ‘yan dito,” [They suspected me of running as chair in my village this October.   That report has already circulated here],” said Gonzales.  (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)