ZAMBOANGA CITY: Eight people were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by still unidentified suspects at a flagpole near the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal near the City Hall building went off Tuesday night in General Santos City.
Police reports identified only four of the eight wounded as Jay Maglanao, Christian Paul Ami-mong, Marlon Tajada from Sto. Niño town in South Cotabato and Sarah El Alquiza from General Santos City.
The victims, who sustained shrapnel wounds in their bodies, were rushed to the St. Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.
Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said no individual claimed responsibility for the explosion and that authorities are investigating the motive of the attack, which happened the day after the city celebrated the Tuna Festival.
“The Joint Task Force Gensan of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division and the police authorities responded immediately to assist the victims. Authorities are investigating the blast,” he said.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera visited the victims in the hospital and assured their families that the government will shoulder all their expenses and medicines.
He also ordered security forces to immediate resolve the bombing.
“I want to pin down immediately whoever are behind this explosion. I don’t want these people to create more havoc to Gensan,” Rivera told The Manila Times.
“Gensan is steadily progressing. This blast will somehow be a deterrent to the vibrant economy of the city, especially to the entry of investments,” he added.
Rivera appealed to residents to stay calm and vigilant.
“I want all residents to be strong in these times. Let us not blame and point fingers because that won’t really help. Let us be vigilant, let us help one another because Gensan is our home,” he said.
An hour after the bomb blast in General Santos City, a grenade exploded at a warehouse in downtown Lamitan City in Basilan.
Police said one of two men riding on a motorcycle lobbed the grenade at a warehouse owned by Bobong Yumul on Rizal St. in Barangay Maganda. There was no report of casualties.
In Cagayan de Oro, three policemen were injured when a man they were trying to arrest on drug charges tossed a grenade near a commuter terminal in Cagayan de Oro. The man was eventually killed.
“It was a police operation. Our policemen were trying to serve an arrest warrant on a man facing drug charges and he pulled out a grenade and exploded it to the cops. Three policemen were injured and they were rushed to the hospital. The man was eventually killed,” a police investigator said.
The explosions occurred at a time that authorities were closely monitoring local sympathizers of the Islamic group called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria after more than a hundred Filipinos were said to have joined the fighting in Iraq and that two had died in the battle.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ano, commander, 10th Infantry Division, said initial investigation showed that the GenSan bombing was the handiwork of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) under Basit Usman.
WITH REPORTS FROM WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL AND ANTHONY VARGAS