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Car bomb kills 6 in Cotabato

A building burns near the bulletproof Chevrolet Suburban (right) of Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. JOHN UNSON

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – A powerful explosion ripped through a busy avenue here during the afternoon rush hour yesterday, killing at least six people, one of them a policeman, and wounding 29 others.

Police believe the bomb was rigged to a multicab parked in front of the Villa Funeral Parlor near the corner of Maniara street and Sinsuat avenue, and set off from a distance as the convoy of Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. was passing by.

The mayor was not in the bulletproof Chevrolet Suburban sport utility vehicle, which stalled about five meters away from the multicab.

The SUV’s passenger, the mayor’s sister Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi who is city administrator, was unharmed.

But one of the police escorts on a motorcycle, identified only as SPO3 Malambuay, was killed.

The explosion destroyed the multicab and the impact razed a roadside eatery along with six other buildings.

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A Mitsubishi pickup truck, a light dump truck ahead of the mayor’s SUV and four motorcycles were also destroyed.

Police removed the mayor’s dark blue SUV as fire raced through the buildings along the avenue.

Malacañang condemned the bombing and vowed to hunt down the perpetrators, initially believed to be members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the rogue faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“We condemn the use of violence to kill and maim our countrymen who are peacefully going about their daily lives,” Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said. “We’ll hold accountable these criminals who terrorize our society.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

It was the second bombing to hit Mindanao in 10 days. On July 26, eight people died in a powerful explosion in an upscale entertainment center where doctors and pharmaceutical sales representatives were attending a conference in Cagayan de Oro City.

The injured yesterday were identified as Chief Inspector Abubakar Mangelen Jr., Adam Haron, Allan Carugna, Eduardo Malicdem, Ezekiel Almeroda, Lucas Hamsa, Liza Mangunda, Emelie Lu, Harris Unto, Datupeges Mampen, Erlina Dicaing, Alsaima Ulama, Salipudin Sindatok, Richie John Besanes, Edison Antonlin, Ivy John Olen, Ana Jane Esmael, Guimla Ali, Norhaya Abas, John Anthony Badrudin, Jowadi Salik, Nelsie Lasap, Eduardo Melgar, Omar Ali and Mama Manubuay.

They are confined at the Cotabato Regional Hospital and Medical Center.

Some of the fatalities were schoolchildren on their way home to nearby villages.

The blast site is less than 200 meters away from the Notre Dame Hospital and Cotabato Regional Medical Center.

City police chief Senior Superintendent Rolen Balquin said they were still trying to determine the type of explosive used.

Members of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 set up a security cordon around the blast site as Army and police ordnance experts sifted through the debris for clues.

Balquin said the bomb might have been planted inside a vehicle parked along the road.

“Considering the time of the blast, which was at 4:15 p.m., there were a ot of people because there was traffic jam in the area,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Charles Calima, director of the Central Mindanao Regional Police, instructed all police commanders to intensify security measures in the region.

Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP Public Information Office chief, said police authorities in Central Mindanao have initiated incident management measures and mobilized emergency response teams to address the incident.

“Part of the incident management measures is to layout isolation and preservation of the crime scene and initiate explosives trace detection process to aid in the investigation,” he added.

– With Jaime Laude, Aurea Calica, Cecille Suerte Felipe, AP


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