COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 5 April) – The Philippine National Police on Thursday said a suspect in Wednesday’s bombing in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat has been identified through the CCTV footage of the restaurant where the improvised explosive device went off, wounding at least 18 persons.
Apparently to avoid recognition, the CCTV footage shows the suspect – wearing a face mask, a cap and jacket – entering Carlitos Restaurant carrying what looked like a small white grocery bag at around 1:53 p.m., and immediately blended with the crowd.
Brig. Gen. Eliseo Rasco, police commander of Region 12, said the suspect pretended to be a customer buying lechon manok (roasted chicken).
The suspect moved around inside the restaurant presumably looking for a seat then entered the comfort room.
At 1:56 p.m., the suspect left the restaurant carrying a blue grocery supposedly containing the lechon manok but the CCTV footage shows the white grocery bag was gone.
A waiter even went after him outside to give him the white grocery bag, not knowing it contained a bomb.
The suspect left the bomb at the split-type airconditioning unit outside the restaurant but near the roasting area.
Unknown to the guard, the suspect managed to place the plastic bag containing the explosive inside the restaurant by pushing it inside using his feet.
The suspect left at 1:59 p.m., six minutes after he first entered the premises of the restaurant.
At 3:04 p.m., an hour and five minutes after the suspect left, the bomb went off.
Rasco noted that the bomb, placed in a ketchup container with small nails, was cellphone-detonated.
He said this is the signature bomb of the Dawla Islamiya extortion group under the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF-Torayfie group).
Extortion is believed to have been the motive behind the bombing after the restaurant owner admitted having received a letter extorting P50,000 cash.
The owner reported this to the police, then tightened security measures in the restaurant for days. But still, the bomber slipped past the establishment’s security.
The suspects even reportedly called the restaurant to check if they received their “gift” after the explosion took place.
Police said they are now conducting through investigation to identify the suspects behind the blast.
Rasco thanked the waiter for his alertness in bringing out the plastic bag containing the bomb as he ran after the leaving suspect. If not for his action, more would have been injured or even killed because there were many people inside as it was graduation day for some schools. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)