SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines - The police is now in custody of one of three men who attacked with fragmentation grenades on Sunday night a carnival in Sultan Kudarat’s Esperanza town, killing a six-year-old child and hurting 18 others.
The slain child, John Alfon Antonio, died from multiple shrapnel wounds sustained in the blasts.
Chief Inspector Bryan Bernardino of the Esperanza municipal police said one of the three men who perpetrated the bombing had been arrested and is now undergoing tactical interrogation.
“We can’t reveal his identity meantime while efforts to locate his accomplices are still underway,” Bernardino said.
Witnesses said the three motorcycle-riding bombers arrived at the crowded carnival, near the town hall of Esperanza, positioned themselves in three spots and from there tossed the MK-2 grenades to different directions.
Bernardino said responding investigators and bomb disposal experts recovered three grenade safety pins after sifting through the scene.
“One grenade did not explode. It was promptly taken away from the scene by bomb experts,” Bernardino said.
He said 18 people were hurt in the bombing, now confined in different hospitals.
Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said intelligence operatives from the 601st Brigade are now helping the police investigate on the incident.
The 601st Brigade, which has jurisdiction over Sultan Kudarat province, is a component unit of 6thID.
The carnival bombing came just a day after the 6th ID urged Central Mindanao folks to take precautions against escalation of attacks on civilian targets by the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to avenge the deaths of 18 members killed in encounters with soldiers in Maguindanao province last week.
The BIFF had killed in a roadside bombing last week the municipal treasurer of Maguindanao’s Datu Salibo town and four others in an attack that scared civilian communities in the municipality.
Police probers, however, are still unsure if the BIFF was behind the Esperanza carnival grenade attack.
Army ordnance operatives defused during the past three days 14 improvised roadside bombs BIFF forces planted along farm trails in the tri-boundaries of Maguindanao’s Datu Salibo, Datu Piang and Datu Saudi towns, rocked by recent hostilities precipitated by attempts by bandits to sabotage government infrastructure projects there.