2 explosions rock Basilan’s Isabela City

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 31 May) – A bomb went off in the garage of a bus company in Isabela City, Basilan at around 6:15 p.m. Monday, some 30 minutes after an explosion in front of the Jollibee building, Task Force Basilan commander Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway said.

“The first explosion in front of Jollibee was not [caused by] a bomb, but was a matter of faulty writing,” Gobway said. But another blast was heard while investigators were still checking on the first explosion.

Gobway said a box was left behind Bus No. 81 that had just arrived from Lamitan City.

Christopher Pasaol, a guard of the D-Biel Transportation Company’s garage along Valderosa Street in Barangay La Piedad, told MindaNews a female passenger in Lamitan sought permission from the bus conductor to bring the box to Isabela City. Upon arrival at the garage in Isabela, the guard said the female passenger asked him a favor, to keep watch over the box, promising to return immediately but she did not.

The guard checked on the box bearing the label of a famous rhum, found it sealed tightly with packing tape, weighing about three kilos. He put it back on the same spot and attended to his other duties but barely a minute later, it went off, hurting 28-year-old Gudilla Francisco, a storekeeper of one of the stalls. Police said she was brought to Basilan General Hospital for treatment.

Isabela City Police Station chief Col. Jun Sittin said the Philippine National Police’s bomb squad and scene of the crime operatives were still investigating.

Gobway said they cannot as yet say if it was an improvised explosive device (IED) that exploded.

The blast damaged the rear part of Bus 81 and the immediate vicinity. Shards from three parked buses scattered within the area.

Gobway added that the incident is a reminder to bus conductors never to accept packages especially when the person acting as sender is not known to him.

Uso Dan Salasim, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer, called on Isabeleños to stay calm. “Everything is fine. We’re requesting everyone to please stay at home. If you don’t have anything important to go to, esta anay na casa (stay at home).”

Isabela City Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman urged the public through her social media page to help sustain the gains of peace

“Matagal na pong tahimik ang ating siyudad at ang buong probinsiya ng Basilan. Patuloy pong umaarangkada ang ating ekonomiya at gumaganda ang ating kabuhayan. Pagtulungan po nating manatili ito at ipaalam sa lahat na walang pananakot ang makakapigil sa ating pagbangon (Our city and the entire province of Basilan have been peaceful for a long time. Our economy has been continuously progressing and our lives have become better. Let us all help sustain these gains and let everyone know that no harassment can stop us from rising),” she said. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)