Third blast in Cotabato but no one injured

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/14 Sept) –  The blasting cap of an improvised bomb went off  early Wednesday morning under a parked jeepney along Gutierrez Avenue, the street fronting the compound of the Office of the Regional Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but like Tuesday noon’s twin blasts, no one was injured.

The bomb, fashioned out of  81-MM mortar, apparently malfunctioned as only the blasting cap exploded at around 5:10 a.m about 60 meters from the ARMM gate.  No one was injured. The explosion came 17 hours after  two improvised bombs on the roadside outside the Notre Dame Hospital and Cotabato Regional Medical Center, exploded just as the convoy of Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo passed en route to the ARMM’s Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center for the public forum with the shortlisted nominees for OIC Governor and OIC Vice Governor.

The Explosives and Ordnance Disposal team of the Marines rushed to Gutierrez Avenue early Wednesday and with the help of a K-9 unit, found the unexploded bomb nearby, connected to a cell phone.

The EOD teams of the Army and police also arrived. The area was quickly cordoned off and using sophisticated gadgets, the bomb was detonated.

Felicisimo Khu, Director for Integrated Police Operations-Western Mindanao and head of Task Force Kutawato,  said Wednesday’s blast could be part of the four bombs that were monitored to have entered the city on September 3, allegedly intended for churches.

But Mayor Japal Guiani said the explosions are apparently related to the problem on the appointment of caretakers for the ARMM.

Several groups are reportedly dismayed by the Screening Committee’s choice of shortlisted nominees for OIC Governor and OIC Vice Governor who were interviewed in the public forum Tuesday afternoon.

While the forum was going on, the Supreme Court in Manila issued a temporary restraining order stopping the implementation of the law that synchronized the supposed August 8 polls to May 2013 and authorized the President to appoint officers in charge to serve from noon of September 30, 2011 to June 30, 2013.

The three-year term of the incumbent officials ends noon of September 30.  (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)