Two people were killed while two policemen were wounded when a bomb exploded at a hotel in Cagayan de Oro City early Thursday, police said.
A few hours later, a second bomb was found in the city. Another exploded in front of a commercial compound in Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay, Wednesday night, injuring a teenaged boy.
Senior Supt. Gerardo Rosales, Cagayan de Oro City Police director, identified the fatalities as Rudy Jote, an employee of the Willshire Inn, and a certain “Toto,” a passenger vehicle dispatcher.
PO1 Rogelio Canilanza and PO1 Dexter Daño were brought to the Polymedic Hospital because of shrapnel wounds to the legs and back, Rosales said.
The explosion occurred shortly before 2 a.m. beside the Maxandria Hotel at the corner of J.R. Borja st. and Aguinaldo st.
Around 1:50 a.m., a desk officer of the hotel called the local police, seeking assistance for what appeared to be a bomb left by three unidentified persons, Rosales said.
Canilanza, Daño, and some other policemen went to the scene, but the bomb exploded while they were conducting a “visual investigation,” the city police chief said.
2nd bomb found
Chief Supt. Gil Hitosis, Northern Mindanao regional police director, said another improvised explosive device (IED) was found under a pick-up in the city around 7:30 a.m.
The second explosive, which was apparently made by the same group that bombed the hotel, was disrupted by policemen, he said.
All police units in Northern Mindanao have been placed under “full alert” and directed to increase visibility on the streets and conduct checkpoints to prevent the proliferation of bombs and firearms, Hitosis said.
Boy hurt in Zambo blast
Meanwhile, another bomb exploded at the commercial complex in Brgy. Poblacion, Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay, around 7:40 p.m. Wednesday, injuring 14-year-old Alraffy Barabadan Bano.
An improvised explosive device went off in front of the M&M Alrafhi garments shop owned by Merpha Barabadan Bano, a relative of the victim, Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command, said.
Local police are still trying to determine the bombers’ identities and motive, he said.
Peace deal detractors behind blasts?
Hitosis, whose office supervises the Cagayan de Oro City Police, said he is not discounting the possibility that the explosions were carried out by groups who oppose the recently signed “framework agreement” between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“Tinitingnan namin dyan ay ‘yung link ng explosion sa nearby areas namin… Alam mo naman na ‘yung govt natin ay may ongoing peace deal sa isang grupo at ‘yung isa namang grupo ay parang disgruntled. Bukod pa dun ‘yung isa pang grupo na mukhang ayaw din,” Hitosis told reporters in a phone interview.
The Moro National Liberation Front, who had signed a peace agreement with the government in Sept. 1996, warned that the accord with the MILF violates theirs and could result into unrest.
The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which broke away from the MILF, had also voiced opposition to the framework agreement.
Hitosis, however, noted that there was still no strong evidence linking the blasts to the peace deal. (John Roson)
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