KIDAPAWAN CITY: Another explosion rocked North Cotabato before dawn on Wednesday while an Army convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Maguindanao, wounding seven soldiers.
According to Police Superintendent Reynante delos Santos, North Cotabato Police director, the explosive device used in the North Cotabato blast was believed rigged from a mortar projectile and placed under a concrete bench in front of the Tenorio Building in Poblacion 1, Midsayap town.
The blast damaged a pawnshop and shattered glass windows in the ground floor of the building. No one was hurt.
WOW radio station is also located on the second floor of the building.
“We are thankful that there are no casualties in the blast,” Delos Santos said in a radio interview.
The crime scene was cordoned off for further investigation.
The explosion came following an earlier blast in Cotabato City on Monday that killed 8 persons and injured 30 others.
On Tuesday, North Cotabato Emmylou Talino-Mendoza voiced her constituents’ worries the bombings spilling into her province.
In Maguindanao, seven soldiers were wounded by shrapnel when an IED exploded in Barangay Nabundas in Shariff Saydona town, said Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division (6ID).
Gapuz said the IED may have been planted by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF), although he was quick to point out that anybody could have planted it.
“The soldiers had just left their detachment when they were hit by a roadside bomb,” Senior Superintendent Rodelio Jocson, a local police chief said.
“They sustained minor injuries and were taken to a hospital,” he added.
Regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dickson Hermoso said it was too early to speculate whether Wednesday’s bombings were linked.
However, the latest incidents happened just less than 45 kilometers from the major trading town of Cotabato, where Monday’s bomb attack occurred.
Hermoso said the bombers could be remnants of the BIFF group that they failed to capture during a clearing operation along the Cotabato City-General Santos national highways.
“Until we have determined the specifics on the IED explosion, then we cannot pinpoint anybody,” he said.
The BIFF has been attacking military and civilian targets since last month.
In Quezon City, business establishments, particularly malls, stepped-up security in the face of reports that bombers from the BIFF could not carry out their “test mission” in the metropolis.
At the SM Department Store North EDSA branch, security guards were seen patrolling the parking area carrying long hand-held mirrors to check what was beneath each vehicle.
Jerome Montemayor, a security officer in the area, said they were alarmed by recent reports of bombings in Mindanao and revelations made by BIFF recruits that some of their colleagues are already in the metropolis.
“The manpower of our security guards has been beefed-up to check for any suspicious bags or packages. Thorough check on vehicles and its occupants has been ordered to every personnel manning the entrances of parking lots,” Montemayor said.
At nearby Quezon City Hall, security was also doubled. The same was true at the Ayala Land Techno-hub also in Quezon City where a number of call centers are based.
In Manila, the Court of Appeals and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday received prank bomb threats that prompted the evacuation of their offices.
A woman called the Court of Appeals at about 9:30 a.m. saying a bomb would explode in the main building along Orosa Street, Malate.
According to CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr., they have already set drills for the justices and employees to follow when there are bomb threats.
“This is the 3rd bomb threat in the CA for the last four years,” Reyes told The Manila Times.
Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando said all the employees and officials of the CA were ordered to leave the premises.
Members of the Manila Police District Explosive and Ordnance Division searched the building but found no bomb.
The DOJ received the threat at about 11:30 a.m.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was one of the first to leave the building.
Assistant State Prosecutor Benito Sales Prosecutor Sales said Assistant State Prosecutor Nieven Canlapan received the information through an intelligence officer from Camp Crame.
The Manila Police Bomb Squad searched the area for about an hour but found no explosive device.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) called on the public to remain calm amid the series of bombings in Mindanao and the threats on some establishments in Metro Manila.
PNP Public Information chief Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac called on the public to be more vigilant and prudent in the handling and dissemination of any information that could add more confusion and panic.
Reports that some bombers are now in Metro Manila are carefully and continuously being validated and verified, Sindac said.
He said the police had not received any information of a terror threat in Metro Manila.
Sindac said the initial result from the Crime Laboratory showed that the explosive used in the Cotabato City bombing was a mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil and was packed inside a multi-cab.
WITH A REPORT FROM ANTHONY VARGAS