• Explosions wreak havoc in Cotabato

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    COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: This city and nearby provinces, have almost the same story happening this December. There is the series of bombings of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) steel tower, the hurling of improvised explosives device (IED) on business establishment, or the killings of the notorious motorcycle-riding armed men.

    As the year 2015 comes to an end, at least five soldiers were gunned down by motorcycle riding in tandem in Cotabato City, which authorities blamed on the lawless Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) urban hit squad.

    On Monday, two improvised bombs were hurled at Kulolot’s Videoke Bar and at the waiting shed along the busy Sinsuat Avenue in this city.

    Nobody was hurt but it partially damaged the waiting shed on Macapagal and Pansacala Streets in the stretch of the busy Sinsuat Avenue.

    Bomb experts from the Explosives Ordnance Division (EOD) recovered deformed iron bars, cut concrete nails, black powder in a plastic container but no triggering device was found.

    Senior Supt. Raul Supeter, Cotabato City police chief, said the twin bombings could be related but investigation is still in progress as of press time.

    Just hours after the twin bombing and while responding policemen were attending to the exploded IED, an off duty member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) succumbed to bullets fired by motorcycle riding gunmen.

    The soldier was identified as T/Sgt. Leopoldo Moncerana.

    Police said Moncerana was onboard his motorbike coming from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Savings and Loan Association, Inc. (AFPSLAI) local office when attacked by the suspects. The gunmen took his bag containing his service firearm and money he loaned from AFPSLAI when Moncerana fell after the shooting.

    Troopers from the Army’s Special Forces Battalion who were at the nearby station responded and recovered Moncerana’s motorbike and bag.

    Four civilians were wounded from stray bullets in the shootout between the suspects and the troopers.

    However, Supeter could not say whether the twin bombings and the killing of Moncerana were related.

    JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL

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