Death toll in Zambo blast: 2

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/24 January) – The death toll in Friday’s explosion near a bus terminal here has reached two as one of 53 injured died in the hospital.

Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, City Health Officer, said Saturday another victim expired Friday evening while under medical treatment at one of the hospitals in this city.

Agbulos identified the victim as Dennis Valente, who was earlier list to be in critical condition.

Reynaldo Tan, 38, expired at the hospital minutes after the blast.

Agbulos along with City Social Welfare and Development Officer Socorro Roxas were tasked by Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar to go around the hospitals to determine what assistance the local government can extend to the victims.

Agbulos said that as of Saturday morning 10 of the 47 injured victims were still in the hospitals.

The bomb, which exploded around 3:15 p.m. Friday, was placed in a car parked in front of a disco pub located across the bus terminal in Barangay Guiwan.

The bomb explosion also destroyed a car and a tricycle as well as shattered window glasses of several business establishments nearby.

A source from the Explosives Ordnance Demolition (EOD) team said they recovered bomb fragments which appear to be a mortar shell but added they are still awaiting laboratory analysis to ascertain whether or not it is mortar shell debris.

But the police and military tagged the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) behind the bombing.

Mayor Climaco-Salazar told a press conference at City Hall on Saturday that the bombing was related to Monday’s foiled escape of Abu Sayyaf members from the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center.

Salazar said the plan of the ASG was to explode the bomb last Monday to divert the attention of the police and military forces while the ASG detainees will stage jail break and another group would storm the ZCRC to rescue their comrades.

“Their target was really to destabilize the government by creating a diversionary tactic,” Salazar added.

She said the main target was to rescue from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-administered ZCRC the two brothers of Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama, namely, Benzar and Musang.

Chief Insp. Julius Arro, ZCRC warden, said there are 56 suspected members of the ASG, including the two Indama brothers, who are in their custody.

Salazar said the ASG pushed through with their planned bombing on Friday although the plan to rescue their comrades last Monday was foiled.

“They were unsuccessful with the plan to rescue but they pushed through their intention,” she said citing it is “to scare us” and to show they have the capability to carry out their bad intention.

The rescue plan was foiled when the BJMP personnel detailed at the ZCRC seized on Monday three caliber .45 pistols and 140 rounds of ammunition delivered to an ASG detainee.

The guns and bullets were concealed at the bottom of two home-made concrete charcoal stoves delivered to an ASG detainee by three persons, two of them women, at the ZCRC.

Salazar said the city government is providing financial assistance to the families of Valente and Tan as well as to the wounded victims. (MindaNews)