KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 1 May) – Police are pursuing at least four “persons of interest” in connection with the bomb explosion beside a Catholic church and the recovery of another explosive here on Sunday.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde said in a press conference here on Monday night that law enforcement operations are ongoing for the arrest of suspects who were behind the noontime attack that left two persons slightly wounded.
He said two of the suspects have been already identified while the others were known by their aliases.
“Maganda ang tinutumbok dito (We have a good lead with this case). We have some witnesses and that’s very important,” he said.
Albayalde said investigators have come up with the computerized facial composite of the suspects but are “keeping it among ourselves at this time” to ensure that the investigation will not be compromised.
As to the possible affiliation of the suspects, he said they have not yet established their links to any organized group.
“As of this time, we cannot pinpoint responsibility to any group. We don’t want to speculate because we have not yet ascertained their affiliation,” Albayalde said.
The Police Regional Office-12 earlier said the incident could have been a diversionary tactic of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters due to the continuing intensive military operations in their territories in Maguindanao province.
It is also looking at possible retaliation for the series of law enforcement operations launched by the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office that netted several members of local terror groups.
The PNP chief personally inspected late Monday afternoon the blast site near the side entrance gate of the Christ the King Cathedral along Rizal Street and the 747 convenience store along General Santos Drive where another improvised bomb was found.
He led a closed door meeting at the South Cotabato provincial capitol with top police officials of Region 12 and South Cotabato province to assess the incident and the overall peace and order situation in the area.
Albayalde ordered the maximum deployment of police personnel in the city and the neighboring areas to avert similar attacks.
He specifically cited intensified police presence and visibility in all public convergence areas and other strategic places.
As standard operating procedure, Albayalde said all local police chiefs are mandated to step up with their “target hardening measures” and intelligence operations.
“We can send augmentation from our regional mobile force if needed,” he added. (MindaNews)