• Blasts in Leyte, NCotabato injure 43

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    TWO separate bomb attacks injured at least 43 civilians despite tight security being implemented by the police and military.

    The attacks occurred late Wednesday in North Cotabato and Leyte. Police were investigating whether the blasts were connected.

    “We are investigating these (bombings) now,” said Sr. Supt. Dionardo Carlos, spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), on Thursday.

    He said seven people were wounded in the road explosion on the highway near the village of Pagangan Dos in North Cotabato’s Aleosan town. The bomb exploded as a truck was passing the area.

    The blast occurred several days after an unidentified man lobbed a fragmentation grenade outside a Catholic church in Midsayap town, also in North Cotabato, that injured over a dozen people.

    In the Leyte town of Hilongos, at least 36 people were reported injured following a bomb blast at a public square where an amateur boxing match was going on. Police said an 81-mm mortar rigged to a timer exploded in the plaza at 9:20 p.m. on Wednesday.

    Leyte police provincial director Supt. Franco Simborio said the bombing could have been an act of retaliation from an arrested drug suspect.

    Carlos, citing field reports, identified those hurt in the explosion as follows: John Reynal Lamo, 15; Vicente Nunez, 3; Jessica Geli, 19; Mary Aves, 31; Ricardo Regaton, 53; Jun Rey Lumbre 20; Aldrin Goltiano, 19; Joseph Ryan Bohol, 24; Domingo Oliva, 60; Kevin Manicar, 13; Cristita Ano-Os, 47; Jay Miguel Liba, 15: Christian Lelis, 14; Letecia Liba 55; Erwin Liba, 33; Rudy Bulfa, 33; Giselle Managbanag, 25; Edgar Acsol, 56; Elmer Rebullos, 27; King Michael Melgazo, 15;

    Leonilo Villaro, 28; Doroteo Libres, 50; Roselyn Lasmarias, 42; Wilbert Fornis Alingasa, 14; Guillermo Solera, 26; Rogelio Managbanag, 26; Banoy Abes, 31; Marnilo Lusuegro, 29; Chris Angel Abina, 7; Jessie Abina, 32 and Marcelina Abina, 67.

    “All police units in Eastern Visayas were directed to initiate appropriate counter measures to preempt or negate similar incidents that might transpire in their respective area of operation,” Carlos said.

    No individuals or groups claimed responsibility for both attacks and police would not say whether jihadists or rebels were behind the bombings.

    The military is also investigating the twin bombings. “We are in full support of the PNP investigation. We are ready to provide whatever assistance it needs in the investigation,” said Col. Benjamin Hao, Philippine Army spokesman.

    Malacañang on Thursday said the public had no reason to be alarmed following the two explosions.

    “It’s an area of concern but not alarming,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a news conference.

    He downplayed speculations that the two bombings may lead to the declaration of martial law by President Rodrigo Duterte. The country remains under a state of national emergency following the September 2 blast in the Davao City night market that killed 15 people.

    “These are not indicators at that context of being set up for, let’s say, declaration of martial law,” Abella said.

    He noted that Hilongos had not been the subject of bomb threats.

    WITH A REPORT FROM FERNAN MARASIGAN

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