GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 Sep) – Police tagged on Wednesday a criminal group earlier linked to a local terrorist cell in the bomb attack near of a lying-in clinic before noon here on Sunday that left eight people wounded.
Chief Supt. Eliseo Rasco, regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12, said in a press conference investigators are looking at the Nilong Group as behind the bomb blast in front of the Bonita Lying-in Clinic in Makar junction, Barangay Apopong here.
He said they already identified the alleged suspects but declined to give further details due to the ongoing investigation of the composite Special Investigation Task Group “Bonita.”
“We already have a name and we also identified the group. We have good developments right now as far as the investigation is concerned,” the police official said.
Rasco presented during the press conference the computerized facial composite of an unnamed suspect, based on accounts by at least two witnesses.
The suspect was about 35 to 40 years old, weighs 55-57 kilograms, has brown complexion, curly hair and was last seen at the site wearing a multi-color dominant red sweatshirt and multi-color dominant red cargo pants.
He was accompanied by another person who was then wearing a black bonnet, black sweatshirt and black pants.
The first suspect was reportedly the driver of the black motorcycle that stopped near the blast site while the second was the one who left the brown eco-bag that contained the explosive.
The Nilong Group, which reportedly originated and previously based in Barangay Lumakil in Polomolok, South Cotabato, emerged two years ago after being linked by authorities to a robbery, illegal drug trafficking, gun-for-hire and other criminal activities in the area.
The group was allegedly allied with Sarangani-based terror group Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP), which was part of the local network of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group.
Rasco confirmed that the group had merged with the remnants of the AKP, whose leader, Tokboy Maguid, was killed in an encounter with joint operatives in Kiamba, Sarangani in January last year.
“Yes, that’s the same group,” he later told reporters.
As to the motive of the blast, the official said it could have been due to a “personal grudge,” specifically a family-related conflict involving the lying-in clinic’s owner.
“The Nilong Group could have been hired to stage the attack,” he said.
With that, Raco declared that the incident was not related to the Aug. 28 and Sept. 2 bomb explosions in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that killed five people and injured more than 40 others.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera said he is satisfied with the progress of the ongoing investigation into the blast.
“We’re happy that there are results already and hopefully they will lead to the arrest of the suspects,” he said.
He said the PRO-12 and the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan, in coordination with the city crisis management committee, are doing their best to resolve the case the soonest possible time.
“Rest assured that we’re doing everything, not only for the arrest of the suspects, but also in terms of the implementation of proactive security measures to prevent similar attacks from happening again,” he added. (MindaNews)