Tacurong car blast suspect arrested

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/18 August) — Police have arrested a suspect in the car bomb explosion in Tacurong City last Monday, Chief Supt. Benjardi Mantele confirmed at 2:50 p.m. Thursday.

Mantele said that Datu Karim Masdal was arrested last Tuesday but authorities kept it under wraps pending deeper investigation and the appearance of witnesses.

“He was the one who was last seen leaving the car before it exploded. Witnesses have positively identified him,” Mantele said.

Masdal, a resident of Guindolongan in Maguindanao, was arrested in Tacurong City near the blast site, the police official said.

Mantele recalled that last Saturday, authorities recovered an improvised explosive device also in Guindolungan town.

Charges of double murder and multiple frustrated murder were filed earlier today against Masdal, who denied involvement in the incident, the police official said.

Mantele apologized for revealing just now that a suspect has been arrested, saying that doing it earlier “would preempt” police operations and “may refrain witnesses from coming out.”

He said they will continue looking for another suspect named Jay R. Reyes whose identity was known using the so-called computer composite criminal illustration system.

“That’s the modern counterpart of the traditional artist’s sketch,” he said, adding that workers of a taxi company in Davao City provided investigators with the suspect’s facial details.

Reyes, allegedly from Cotabato City, reportedly bought from the taxi company the car that was laden with the improvised explosive device that went off Monday, killing two people and wounding six others, the police official said.

Mantele said the name provided by the suspect to the taxi company could be an alias, noting they have checked with the records of the Social Security System, Commission on Elections and the Land Transportation Office but nothing matched Jay R. Reyes.

“If he is the real one, he should have come out and clear his name, or explain that the car may have been stolen or borrowed by someone,” he added.

No Jay R. Reyes has surfaced until now.

Mantele said they will spread the picture of the suspect in public places and in the media for the people to give possible leads to his whereabouts.

He said people who can provide leads but are afraid to come out may just secretly relay their information to the police.

The car bomb exploded Monday afternoon just as the convoy of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu was passing by.

Mangudadatu claimed he was the target of the car bomb.

One of the two fatalities, Maguindanao board member Russman Sinsuat expired later in a local hospital. His car was part of the governor’s convoy.

Mr. Sinsuat’s son and namesake was injured by the blast, and his leg had to be amputated. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)