Explosion hits Lamitan

Roel Pareño - The Philippine Star
Explosion hits Lamitan
More than a dozen firearms were voluntarily surrendered to the police and military by residents of Lamitan City during their mayor's state of the city report activity on June 18, 2024.
Photo courtesy of Philstar.com / John Unson

Hours after declaring free from Abu Sayyaf

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Several hours after the local government declared Lamitan in Basilan free from the presence of Abu Sayyaf bandit group, an explosion ripped through a fuel station in the city on Tuesday night.

Authorities dismissed speculations that the bandit group was behind the incident, saying extortion was the motive for the attack.

City police chief Lt. Col. Arlan Delumpines said the owner of the gasoline station received an extortion letter last month.

Delumpines said probers have persons of interest in the attack that occurred at around 6:47 p.m. in Barangay Matibay.

The identities of these persons of interest were withheld pending results of an ongoing investigation, he said.

The explosion wounded a passerby and tore the covers of the station’s fuel dispensers.

Responding police and military officers recovered what were believed to be parts of an improvised explosive device such as a nine-volt battery, blasting caps and powder residue.

Probers said footage of a closed-circuit television camera  installed in the area showed men on three motorcycles waiting near the gasoline station.

One of the men hanged what appeared to be a sack in front of the station minutes before the explosion occurred.

Basilan Gov. Hajiman Hataman-Salliman condemned the attack, saying it undermined efforts of the provincial and local governments to maintain peace and order in the island-province.

Salliman ordered a thorough investigation of the incident.

Mayor Roderick Furigay, who early in the day declared Lamitan free from Abu Sayyaf, urged his constituents to remain calm and vigilant.

Furigay gave assurance that the incident was an isolated case.

Bangsamoro police director Brig. Gen. Prexy Tanggawohn ordered the city police to verify reports that the bombing was meant to discredit local government executives as well as the police and the military for declaring Lamitan and Lantawan free from Abu Sayyaf. – John Unson

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