GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 Sep) – Police have filed multiple frustrated murder charges against 16 more suspects in connection with the Sept. 16 bomb blast here that left eight people wounded.
Senior Insp. Robert Fores, deputy chief of the city police station-02, said Wednesday the complaint was filed on Tuesday by the Special Investigation Task Force (SITG) “Bonita” before the City Prosecutor’s Office.
He said the additional complaint has so far brought the number of suspects who were “identified as involved” in the attack to 19.
The SITG initially filed multiple frustrated murder charges last Friday against the arrested primary suspect, Jeffrey Panag Alonzo, and his two other alleged cohorts.
Fores, who is a member of the SITG, declined to name the 18 other suspects due to the ongoing pursuit operations.
He said the additional suspects were identified through the task group’s collaboration with various law enforcement agencies, intelligence units and community informants.
“These suspects had participation (in the bomb attack) based on the SITG’s investigation,” he told reporters.
Fores said the task group established that Alonzo and the 18 other suspects were all remnants of local terror group Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP).
He described the AKP as an Islamic State-inspired group operating in South Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos or Socsargen area and part of the local network of the Maute Group.
Previously based in Sarangani, the group reportedly moved to other nearby areas following the neutralization of its alleged founder Tokboy Maguid in a police operation in Kiamba town in January last year.
Joint operatives had recovered flags and other materials associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS in a number of raids on the group’s enclaves in Sarangani.
Alonzo, the primary suspect in the blast, was nabbed on Sept. 19 in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Lapu, Polomolok town.
He was positively identified by witnesses as the same person who planted the bomb that went off before noon on Sept. 16 in front of the Bonita Lying-in Clinic in Makar junction, Purok Malipayon in Barangay Apopong, according to the SITG.
Fores said the suspects were linked to the armed group led by the fugitive Joefry Tuanadatu Nilong alias Imoy, who was wanted for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
The group’s hideout in Sitio Malyango of Barangay Lapu was tracked down by police operatives in an operation last Sunday.
The operating team recovered at the site at least two improvised explosives and related materials as well as T-shirts with ISIS markings.
Fores said Chief Supt. Eliseo Rasco, regional director of the Police Regional Office-12, has ordered full-scale pursuit operations against the 18 other suspects in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“We’re doing everything to bring swift justice to the victims,” he added (MindaNews)