2 soldiers wounded in North Cotabato blast

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/03 May)– Two soldiers were wounded when a bomb exploded along the highway in Magpet, North Cotabato at around 1:15 p.m. Friday, an hour before a local political rally was supposed to take place, police said.

SPO4 Menardo Cui, Magpet deputy police chief, said the bomb was planted just a few feet away from the highway, particularly along the boundary of barangays Binay and Doles – two areas considered “highly-influenced” by communist guerillas.

Cui said the victims were on board a military truck and on their way to Barangay Binay to conduct routine patrol operations when the explosion took place.

Lt. Nasrullah Sema, chief of the civil military operations of the 57th Infantry Battalion, identified the wounded soldiers as Cpl. Rogelio de Vera and Pfc. Michael Abrazaldo, both members of the 57th IB’s Bravo Company.

Both sustained multiple shrapnel wounds in the different parts of their bodies but were declared in stable condition by attending physicians, Sema said.

Sema blamed the New Peoples’ Army for the roadside blast.

The explosion on Friday was the seventh since January within the area of operations of the 57th IB, military records showed.

Due to the explosion, Mayor Efren Pinol, who is running for vice mayor in the May 13 elections, decided to cancel his rally in Barangay Binay.

He said he could not sacrifice the safety of his supporters since the situation was too risky.

“Besides, the military and the police were still conducting manhunt operations. It’s not acceptable that we put the safety and security of our men in jeopardy,” Pinol said.

This was not the first time that an explosion hit Barangay Binay as Pinol was about to hold a rally.

When he was seeking re-election in the May 10 elections, a bomb went off along the highway, also on the same spot, which also led him to cancel the rally. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)