Blasts rock 6 schools in Maguindanao

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MAGUINDANAO: Police authorities launched a manhunt for unidentified suspects who simultaneously blasted six school buildings in Sultan Mastura town in Maguindanao on Wednesday before dawn.

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The schools, which are all enlisted as among poll centers for the May 9 election, were identified as Tapayan Central School, Dagurungan Elementary School, Tuka Elementary School, Darping Elementary School, Tareken Primary, and Simuay Seashore Elementary School, all located southwest of Sultan Mastura.

Senior Inspector Wendylyn Banico, Sultan Mastura chief of police, told reporters that no one was reported hurt in the attacks which came between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

She said bullet holes, believed to be caused by M-16 Armalite rifles, and a grenade crater were found in the schools which were blasted.

Banico said it appears the gunmen used 40 mm rifle grenades, fired from a distance, based on shrapnel recovered at the blast sites by Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO).

Recovered in the explosion sites were metallic fragments, disintegrated blue plastic container, two grenade safety levers, and empty shells of various calibers.

Banico said investigation is underway as for the real motive but police are looking at the possibility that it could also be an election-related issue.

No individual or groups claimed responsibility for the daring attacks that happened two weeks before elections.

“We are still investigating as to the real motive, but we can only surmise at this time it could be election related,” Banico told reporters.

Banico believed the bombings could be related to the up coming elections although the town of Sultan Mastura was not included in the Comelec, PNP and AFP identified areas of immediate concern in Maguindanao.

The attacks triggered panic among residents living near the school grounds, he added.

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