Three people were injured when a fragmentation grenade exploded in Baguio City early Sunday, shortly before the highlight of the city’s Panagbenga Festival (Flower Festival) started, police said.

Gilbert Salvador, 29; Joseph Espada, 49; and Genard Palomique, 33, all local residents, suffered “minor injuries” on their legs and backs, Baguio City Police director Senior Supt. Jesus Cambay Jr. said.

All three victims were rushed by responding policemen and volunteers to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, he said.

The blast occurred around 6:50 a.m. at the basement of the Melvin Jones Grandstand in Burnham Park, where the Baguio City Volunteers Against Crime holds office, city police spokesman Senior Insp. Virgilio Hidalgo said by phone.

Initial investigation showed that an unidentified suspect threw an MK 2 fragmentation grenade while Salvador, Joseph Espada, and Palomique were busy attending to their work inside the office, Hidalgo said.

The incident occurred barely two hours before the Panagbenga Festival’s “grand float parade” started around 8 a.m.

The parade started at the Panagbenga Park, passed through Session Road in the city center, and ended at the Baguio Athletic Bowl in Burnham Park past 11 a.m.

This year’s festival kicked off on Feb. 10 and will close on March 4.

Cambay said the blast “was not a terrorist act” and “could not be related” to the annual festival, which draws millions of spectators to the city.

“It is very unfortunate that this isolated incident occurred despite the festive mood that the residents and visitors are now experiencing in this mountain resort,” Cambay added.

Investigators were still trying to determine the perpetrator’s identity and location as of this writing. (John Roson)

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