Philippines hunts for suspects after deadly blast

Manila: The Philippine president’s office promised justice to victims of the recent bombing in Sultan Kudarat, which killed two people and injured 34 in Isulan town.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the bombing in Sultan Kudarat last night. Authorities are now investigating the incident and we vow to bring the perpetrators of this brazen attack to justice,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Wednesday.

The municipality was marking its traditional harvest thanksgiving on Tuesday night when a bomb exploded during the festivities.

One person died on the spot, while another succumbed to injuries several hours later, reports reaching Manila said.

At least 34 others suffered injuries of varying degrees.

“Since Mindanao is still under martial law, we will do everything to find out who is behind this bombing,” Roque said.

Martial law in Mindanao will end on December 31, 2018. Roque said the government was of the view that the latest incident presents a strong case for extending it.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had admitted that extending martial law is one “option” the government is considering.

Under martial law, certain rights of individuals are suspended. Likewise arbitrary detention is allowed under such declaration on a limited basis.

National police director-general Oscar Albayalde echoed the position of the palace and Medialdea.

“I do not think anything bad happened had happened when we imposed martial law there (Mindanao). I think, its part of peace and security in the area. And in fact, it has probably improved the economic development there. So why not?,” reports quoted Albayalde as saying on the issue.

State-run Philippine News Agency reported that a 51-year-old woman Leny Dohina Omborog and seven year-old Devy Shane Alayon, died from shrapnel wounds from the Isulan blast.

The powerful explosion took place middle of the street in the village of Kalawag Tres as the locals were celebrating the Hamughaya Festival, a thanksgiving rite observed by the local Muslim, Christian and Lumad residents.

Authorities said the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device placed aboard a motor tricycle.

Authorities are eyeing the involvement of a radical faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) under the leadership of Abu Turaifi.

The Abu Turaifi group had been on the run from recent government operations in the Liguasan Marsh area.

According to a report by the Mindanao Examiner, Sultan Kurat Governor Pax Mangudadatu has put a P1 million (Dh68,651) bounty for information that could lead authorities to the perpetrators.


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