AUTHORITIES are clueless about the identities of the suspects who lobbed hand grenades near a mosque in Talayan, Maguindanao on Friday noon that wounded the town’s former mayor, his son, also a mayor, and six of their security escorts.
Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said two grenades were thrown at the perimeter of Talayan Grand Mosque across the town hall in Barangay Poblacion at about 12:45 p.m.
The victims had just emerged from the obligatory Muslim Friday noontime prayers at the mosque.
One of the grenades did not explode.
Wounded in the attack were Kagui Ali Midtimbang, 62; his son Nathaniel, 33, the mayor of Datu Anggal town; and their security escorts Datu Anong Mupak, Sandi Aron, Manap Balumol and three others identified only as Kasim, Marcos and Macalangga.
Midtimbang, former mayor of Talayan, ran for governor of Maguindanao in the 2016 elections but lost to re-electionist Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.
The victims sustained multiple shrapnel wounds and were undergoing treatment at private hospitals in the cities of Cotabato and Davao.
Citing witnesses, Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, provincial police director, said the suspects immediately fled the crime scene towards Datu Anggal on board separate motorcycles.
One of the motorcycles used in the attack was later found along a highway in Barangay Mapayag in Datu Anggal, he added.
The suspects are believed to have transferred to a White Toyota Innova and fled to unknown directions.
“We are tracking the original owner of the motorcycle,” Tello said.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Maguindanao province have condemned the attack and urged the police to conduct a quick and thorough investigation to arrest the perpetrators.
The town hall of Talayan was also bombed last month by suspected members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Several improvised explosive devices were found along strategic stretch of the Cotabato-Isulan Highway in Talayan but were promptly deactivated by Army bomb disposal experts.