Police defuse bombs in Tacurong City; The predominantly Christian capital had previously experienced bomb attacks
(The Manila Times) GOVERNMENT security forces foiled what could be a terrorist bomb attack in Central Mindanao after bomb experts dismantled three improvised bombs in the vicinity of the Tacurong City public market in Sultan Kudarat province.
The discovery and dismantling of three powerful improvised bombs came as security forces in Mindanao were placed on heightened alert status against possible terror attacks.
Initial reports reaching Camp Crame said the bombs made up of 60mm mortar shells were discovered about 6 a.m. near the public market of Tacurong City, a predominantly Christian capital.
Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said three bombs rigged from 60mm mortar explosives was stuffed inside a black bag and concealed under the makeshift secondhand clothing stall owned by local trader Joselito Baylon in the area.
A helper of the trader identified as Julian Decolongon discovered the bomb and immediately brought it to a nearby empty children’s park before seeking police assistance.
“It was just fortunate that a worker of Baylon noticed the suspicious-looking bag containing the explosives,” Ando said.
Tacurong City Police chief, Supt. Joel Limson said in the report that an “ukay-ukay” vendor discovered the bomb near her stall in the market.
The city police chief said that a bomb disposal unit was immediately dispatched in the area to defuse the bombs that were left behind by still-unknown suspects.
Baylon noted that he had no enemies, prompting police probers to theorize that the Alkobar extortion ring could have been behind the foiled bombing attempt.
The Alkobar group claimed responsibility for recent bombings in the city and the near environs.
The Tacurong bomb attempt came days after Army bomb experts disarmed a fragmentation grenade planted in a cafeteria inside the public market of Mlang, North Cotabato.
Dondon Suelo, a worker of Dawn’s Cafeteria, discovered the explosive, which was stuffed inside a plastic bag about 7:30 a.m. on Monday.
Senior Insp. Eldy Magbanua, Mlang police chief, said the explosive no longer had its safety pin, as its lever was attached to the plastic bag. Magbanua ruled out extortion as the motive behind the incident, citing the cafeteria’s owner has no extortion threat prior to the incident. “The motive was to kill and damage property,” he said.
In the past, Tacurong City experienced bomb attacks staged by extortion gangs and Islamic militants, notably by members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
Security forces have also eyed JI bombers as behind the recent bombing in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato early this month that have resulted in the deaths of at least two people.
The said bombing incident has prompted the US, Australia and Canada to issue travel advisories warning its citizens about venturing into Mindanao due to likelihood of terrorist attack.
Last week, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) recommended to government security forces to raise the alert-level for terror warning in Mindanao.
The warning was recommended due to reports that Abu Sayyaf and rogue Moro rebels were planning to launch bombing attacks after the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, last Friday.
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