41 injured in grenade blast in Davao hinterlands

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 Sept) –  Forty one residents watching a circus performance in a remote district  here Saturday night were injured when a still unidentified person lobbed a grenade at a military detachment adjacent to the covered court where the circus was held.

City police chief Ronald dela Rosa said initial investigation showed a grenade was lobbed at the  “temporary detachment” of  a peace and development team (PDT) of the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion, adjacent to the covered court of Fatima village, Paquibato district.

Dela Rosa said the grenade bounced off upon hitting a tarpaulin  between the covered court and the detachment, and exploded at the former.

The injured were treated at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in this city, dela Rosa said. But a press statement from the 69th Infantry Battalion on Sunday said military personnel and local officials brought the victims to the Rivera hospital in Panabo City.

While most of the victims sustained minor injuries, two are reportedly in critical condition, the press statement read.

It quoted Col. Lysander Suerte, the commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade, as saying the incident was “an act of total disregard to the safety and welfare of innocent civilians.”

“The Army is providing support to the Philippine National Police and other concerned government agencies in their investigation of this incident. In the spirit of Bayanihan, the Army would like to enjoin everyone to condemn those who use violence and intimidation against the people,” Suerte added.

Paquibato is listed by the military as an area influenced by the New People’s Army under Leoncio Pitao or Commander Parago, head of the first Pulang Bagani Command.

The press statement noted that Saturday’s grenade blast was the fifth lobbed at military installations in Paquibato since October 2010.

On October 21, 2010, a grenade was lobbed at 5 :25pm in Brgy Dalisay, Panabo City, allegedly targeting the headquarters of the  69th Infantry Division.

On November 11, 2011, a grenade was lobbed at around 6:30 p.m. in Barangay San Roque, Panabo City, allegedly intended for the PDT of the 69th IB. Two soldiers, one paramilitary element and two civilians were wounded.
Two other grenade-throwing incidents were recorded at 11:54 p.m. on July 14, 2011, in Barangay Pandaitan, and on July 13 at 1:30 a.m.

Earlier, Major Jake Obligado, chief of the 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion, NPA guerrillas attacked a detachment of  the combined troops of 69th IB and Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit in Tapak village, Paquibato on August 23.

He said the attack resulted in an armed encounter, which killed five NPA members and wounded three militiamen. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)