Police pursuing 2 angles in S. Kudarat bombing

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/16 August) – The police is pursuing two possible motives in last Monday’s bombing that hit one of the vehicles in the convoy of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, killing provincial board member Russman Quesada Sinsuat and a bystander.

Chief Supt. Benjardi Mantele, Southwestern Mindanao police director, said they are still investigating if it was politically related or could be caused by a land dispute but could not yet provide details.

He said that hours after the explosion, he was able to talk to Mangudadatu, who claimed he was the target of the bomb attack. “That’s his view, that their convoy was the target. For our part, we think the motive was far from terrorism,” Mantele said.

He added they were able to find a witness who could help solve the bomb explosion but refused to elaborate.

Sinsuat was seriously injured when his Toyota Fortuner, the third of the seven-vehicle convoy en route to the governor’s resort for his 43rd birthday celebration, was hit when a white Kia vehicle laden with an improvised bomb and parked along the highway exploded as the convoy passed Monday afternoon. He later died at the Sultan Kudarat Doctors Hospital in Tacurong.

Sinsuat’s son, Russman Jr., survived but his right leg was amputated. Five others are still in the hospital for treatment of injuries

The other fatality was a bystander identified by police as Raffy Pareñas.

Mantele said the improvised explosive device was fashioned from a shell of a 105 mm Howitzer canon.

Previous bomb attacks in Southwestern Mindanao employed either shells of 60 or 80 mm mortar, with authorities claiming they were perpetrated by rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front supposedly with links to the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.

A special investigation task group has been formed to focus on Monday’s bombing incident, Mantele said.

The owner of the Kia sedan that was laden with the bomb was traced to be from Davao City.

Mantele said the improvised bomb may not have been attached to the car as it travelled to the blast site.

The bomb may have been slipped through interior roads to avoid detection from highway checkpoints, and may have been planted when the car was already parked at the site along the national highway, the police official said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)