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Bombs targeted BIR officer?

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde said lawyer Nasser Abinal, BIR’s revenue district officer (RDO) in Intramuros, Manila, has been receiving death threats through his Facebook account and text messages. Geremy Pintolo/File

MANILA, Philippines - The police yesterday took into custody an official of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) who could be the primary target of the twin explosions in Quiapo, Manila late Friday that left two persons dead and six others wounded, a ranking official said.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde said lawyer Nasser Abinal, BIR’s revenue district officer (RDO) in Intramuros, Manila, has been receiving death threats through his Facebook account and text messages.

Albayalde said investigators from the Manila Police District (MPD) are now getting the statements and help of Abinal in tracking down those who wanted him dead, especially those who sent him hate messages through his Facebook account and mobile phone.

The NCRPO chief strongly believes that the twin explosions are related and Abinal was the prime target, as he is holding office in the area of the blasts.

“The motive we are eyeing is personal. We are working hard to identify the suspects that would eventually led to their arrests,” Albayalde said in an interview.

He noted that closed-circuit television cameras caught those who delivered the bombs to the area the night before the twin explosions.

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“We have copies of video footages showing those who delivered the bombs. The first one was clear but the second one was blurred,” Albayalde said, noting that the NCRPO is working with other units of the Philippine National Police to identify the perpetrators.

“The MPD are now in the process of profiling the suspects.”

MPD rules out terrorism

Meanwhile, the MPD yesterday ruled out terrorism in the twin explosion that rocked the Islamic Center in Quiapo Saturday night.

Albayalde and MPD director Chief Superintendent Joel Napoleon Coronel assured the public that the twin explosions, which occurred more than three hours apart, were isolated and seem to be the handiwork of several persons who had an axe to grind against the president of the Imamate Islamic Center (ISC).

Grab taxi on probe

A source said that witnesses saw a Grab taxi driver about to deliver a package to lawyer ISC president Nasser Abinal and talking to a man who reportedly know the Imam.

The man reportedly refused to accept the package “because Abinal had already been receiving death threats.”

A few seconds later, the package exploded, instantly killing the two men.

During investigation, Abinal confirmed that he had death threats, usually on social media, which according to him could be related to his position as imam.

Probers identified one of the victims as Mohammad Bainga, but withheld the name of the Grab driver pending results of the follow-up investigation.

The source said they are also looking at the taxi company, which could lead them to the alleged mastermind.

Grab Philippines yesterday confirmed that one of the fatalities in the deadly blast was a driver for the courier service arm of the company.

In a statement, Grab condemned the booming and said that it was saddened by the death of its GrabExpress driver, who has yet to be named.

“We are one with authorities in pursuing justice for those who needlessly lost their lives and were hurt. We pledge our full cupport and cooperation in the conduct of the their investigation,” Grab said.

The company added that it will let authorities speak for the incident as Grab will refrain from giving any more details.

Four persons were also injured in the blast, but only three were identified – Abdul Baki Gulam, 56, a native Lanao del Sur; Datu Sohair Adapon, 60, from Marawi City and member of the Shia Islamic Imamate, and Hajhi Ali.

Albayalde said the building that houses the office of the ISC had earlier received an eviction notice and they are looking at this angle.

Close call

Police immediately rushed to the area and cordoned all possible entries and exits.

Albayalde and Coronel rushed to the site an hour later to assess the situation, but another explosion rocked the area just a few meters from the two police officials.

Chief Inspector Elisa Reyes Arturo, MPD Crime Laboratory chief chemist, and Police Officer 2 Aldrin Resos, of the MPD-EOD, suffered minor injuries.

The source said they suspect that the second explosion was caused by a bomb that was hurled from one of the buildings.

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