MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - A defeated aspirant for governor of Maguindanao, his mayor-son and six others were injured in a grenade blast that ripped through a fenced mosque in Talayan town on Friday.
The injured Kagui Ali Midtimbang, 62, and his 33-year-old son, Nathaniel, mayor of Datu Anggal town, were emerging from a roadside mosque in the town proper of Talayan after an obligatory Friday prayer rite when unidentified men riding motorcycles hurled grenades over the fence of the worship site.
One of the two grenades the suspects tossed at them went off, wounding the Midtimbangs.
The blast also hurt worshipers Datu Anang Mupak, Sandy Aron, Manap Balumol and three others initially identified only as Kasim, Marcos and Makalanga.
The victims were rushed immediately by responding policemen and soldiers to the Notre Dame Hospital in Cotabato City.
Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello, director of the Maguindanao provincial police, said the bombers had escaped using their motorcycles.
One of the two motorcycles used in the attack was found later along a highway in Barangay Mapayag in Datu Anggal.
Talayan and Datu Anggal towns are both in the second district of Maguindanao.
The older Midtimbang aspired for the gubernatorial post of Maguindanao during the 2016 elections, but lost to reelectionist Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.
Midtimbang, who had served as mayor of Talayan, sustained multiple shrapnel wounds in both legs.
Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), who has political jurisdiction over Maguindanao, immediately offered to work out the airlift of the injured Midtimbang clan elder to a hospital in Davao City.
Hataman, chairman of ARMM’s inter-agency peace and order council, has ordered the police director of the autonomous region, Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, to personally oversee the investigation on the grenade attack.
The town center of Talayan was bombed more than two weeks ago by suspected members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Several improvised explosive devices were also found along strategic stretches of the Cotabato-Isulan Highway in Talayan that were promptly deactivated by Army bomb disposal experts.