Car bomb explodes in S. Kudarat as Maguindanao gov’s convoy passes by

KRONADAL CITY (MindaNews/15 August) – A car laden with improvised explosive device in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat exploded this afternoon as the convoy of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu was passing by, hitting one car in the governor’s entourage.

One person was killed and seven were injured.

Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, Jr., head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, said that five of the injured were from the Toyota Fortuner in Mangudadatu’s convoy.

But Senior Supt. Danilo P. Peralta, Sultan Kudarat police director, said they are still trying to find out for whom the bomb was really intended after reports circulated that one car in Mangudadatu’s convoy was hit.

Chief Supt. Benjardi Mantele, Southwestern Mindanao police director, said that initial investigation showed the car was laden with an improvised explosive device .

The explosion occurred near the city’s rotunda around 3:20 p.m., according to Allan Freno, information officer of the Tacurong local government. Speaking near the blast site, he said the white Kia sedan suffered heavy damages due to the explosion.

Malacañang, in a statement emailed to news organizations, condemned “in the strongest terms” the alleged “attempted assassination” on Mangudadatu.

The attack … comes at a time when the Peace Process and efforts to achieve justice for the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre are moving forward. Attempts such as this one can only serve the ends of the enemies of peace, stability and prosperity in ARMM, said the statement emailed by the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson.

Freno said that police and military bomb experts immediately rushed to the scene to conduct a deeper investigation.

Peralta said that investigators are still determining the “bomb’s signature” that will give them the idea on who could be behind the attack.

But the Malacañang statement quoted Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo that there were already “initial leads” as to who are behind the bombing. “The ownership of the car that was blown up has been identified. The authorities will pursue all leads with vigor,” the statement added.

Last Saturday, authorities recovered an improvised bomb fashioned from an 81-mm mortar shell at the Tacurong City public terminal.

Police officials said the bomb was intended to be brought to General Santos City.

Another bomb was also recovered along the highway of Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao last Saturday.

Early Friday morning, a bomb also exploded in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato, killing two, including the suspected bomber.

Peralta said that authorities are still determining whether the explosion today and the recovery of the IED on Saturday are connected. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)