2 grenade blasts rock Cotabato City; one injured

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/03 March) – Two grenades exploded early Saturday morning inside and outside the compound of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), injuring one person.

The first explosion occurred at 6:30 a.m. behind a beauty parlor along Governor Gutierrez Avenue, Rosary Heights 7, about a hundred meters from the main gate of the ARMM compound.

Responding Marine and police personnel arrived at the scene only to find a homemade bomb inside a sack behind the same parlor.

One of the responding Marines nearly tripped on what is believed to be a new style in leaving improvised explosive devices (IED): attaching it to a string with nails.

Residents said they thought the sack contained trash so they did not mind it. They said they learned it was an explosive only when  members of the Explosives and Ordnance Dispostal team arrived.

Resident Wilson Sarpe pointed to the area where the sack was placed. “They placed the bomb here. We almost tripped on it.”

Mary Grace Arevalo said she thought it was trash. She said she saw a man moving suspiciously while she was about to jog.

EOD members started defusing the bomb believed to be fashioned out of an 81-mm mortar when another grenade explosion occurred at 7:20 a.m. inside the ARMM compound, in front of the office of the Regional Ports Management Authority. The blast injured Brando Esmael, 18, a resident near the area.

On Thursday evening, three persons were injured when an IED exploded also along Gutierrez Avenue, near the building of the Government Service Insurance System.

Abdulrashid Ladayo, chief of the ARMM’s Internal Security Services, the bombings could be the handiwork of people opposed to the reforms being undertaken by the  caretaker administration of OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman.

He said this could also be the work of those who lost their jobs.

On Friday evening, two persons were wounded when a homemade bomb exploded  along the highway in Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato.

Injured were workers James Barte, 19 and  Dave Potenciano, 35.

Police reports said two motorcycle-riding men lobbed an explosive in front of the heavy equipment owned by a Chinese-owned construction firm doing road rehabilitation along Pigcawayan.

Extortion is likely the motive behind the blast, Sr. Insp. Donald Cabigas, Pigcawayan town police chief, said.

Cabigas said the Chinese-owned construction firm received an extortion letter two weeks ago demanding protection money worth P5 million.

The firm refused to heed the demand,  Cabigas said. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews with a report from Malu Manar)