(Update 10 p.m.) A man was killed while 48 other people were injured when an improvised bomb exploded beside a disco bar in Zamboanga City Friday afternoon, authorities said.
“One died while forty-five persons were wounded in the IED (improvised explosive device) explosion,” Zamboanga City police spokesman Superintendent Ariel Huesca said in a text message Friday night.
Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said in an emailed statement that the number of injured later rose to 48, as per the city government’s tally.
The victims were brought to the Western Mindanao Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Zamboanga Peninsula Hospital and Doctors Hospital, Huesca said.
Killed was Reynaldo Tan, while the injured include a person who is “critically wounded” and a policeman, city police information officer SPO2 Alex Mabalot said by phone.
‘Blast came from car’
The blast came from a car parked beside the Fantasy Disco Pub in Brgy. Guiwan, Muyuela said, citing information from the Task Group Zamboanga (TGZ).
The explosive was “encased” in a red Toyota sedan (WOH-608) owned by one Ralph Lakibul, a resident of Brgy. Canelar, according to a separate military report.
“Hindi totally nawasak ‘yung kotse, mare-recognize mo pa ‘yung porma niya na kotse, pero nakataas na ‘yung hood,” Mabalot said.
The site of the 3:30 p.m. explosion is located just across the street in front of the Guiwan Bus Terminal, he added.
Members of the TGZ and policemen have cordoned the area, Muyuela said.
Post-blast investigation was still ongoing Friday night “to determine the signature/type of IED used by the perpetrators,” Huesca said.
“Undetermined pa kung ano ang sumabog, maraming version, we are still waiting for the EOD (explosives and ordnance disposal unit) to report,” Mabalot said.
Additional policemen from the 9th Regional Public Safety Battalion and TGZ have also been scattered in and around the city to conduct checkpoints, Huesca said.
The explosion occurred while security forces are conducting an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in neighboring Basilan province.
The al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for several bombing incidents in Zamboanga City in the past.
Northern Mindanao alerted
Meanwhile, policemen in the neighboring region of Northern Mindanao were placed under full alert – the highest among three alert statuses – after the explosion in Zamboanga City.
All police units were told to observe the status in light of the IED explosion and “threats of terrorism,” regional police director Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said in a statement.
The full alert status comes with “target-hardening” measures, 24/7 checkpoints, deployment of EOD and K-9 units at bus terminals, maximized police visibility in areas of convergence, and border patrols, he said.
Northern Mindanao is connected to the Zamboanga Peninsula in the west by Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte.
The region’s two highly urbanized cities – Cagayan de Oro and Iligan – already experienced bombings by the Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic militants in recent years.
“While the PNP enourages vigilance, the public is advised not to panic… Community members are encouraged to report suspicious individuals and activities to the nearest police station,” Cruz said. (John Roson)
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