Suspected Tacurong bomber freed

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/16 June) – Police authorities in Sultan Kudarat province released for supposed lack of evidence a suspected bomber who was earlier arrested in connection with a foiled bombing attempt in Tacurong City last June 1.

Senior Supt. Danilo Peralta said Thursday they released suspect Mokamad Mantungan from their custody after government prosecutors in Tacurong City dropped last Tuesday a complaint for illegal possession of explosives filed against him by local police operatives.

“Based on the evaluation of the city prosecutor, there was not enough evidence to establish the participation of the suspect in the foiled bomb attack,” he said.

Mantungan was arrested several hours after police operatives in Tacurong City detonated a powerful bomb reportedly recovered at a sidewalk stall in front of the FitMart department store at around 6:30pm last June 1.

The suspect was allegedly seen by several witnesses near the scene prior to the recovery of the explosives, which were composed of two live 81mm mortar shells, two clocks and several batteries.

But based on accounts from several witnesses, Peralta said a female and not a male suspect had left the box that contained the bomb underneath a table occupied by a balut vendor in front of the
department store.

The unidentified woman reportedly disappeared from the scene after leaving the package in the area, he said.

Owing to this, Peralta said the prosecution ruled that they may not use the witnesses’ accounts as evidence against the suspect.

“We have to locate that suspect (woman) so we can file the necessary charges,” he said.

But the police official said they were convinced that Mantungan has some connections with those behind the bombing attempt.

“There were indications that he was privy to the planned attack,” Peralta said without further elaborating.

The Police Regional 12 had placed the entire region under full alert due to the recovery of the explosives.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Cotabato and Kidapawan.

Chief Supt. Benjardi Mantele, Region 12 police director, said they received reports that the recovered bombs were part of a plot by a local terrorist cell to launch renewed attacks in key areas in the region. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)