KIDAPAWAN BLAST KILLS 8
COTABATO CITY, October 11, 2002 (STAR) By John Unson - A powerful homemade bomb exploded in a crowded bus station in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato yesterday, killing eight people and wounding many others in what the military said was a terrorist attack.
Local investigators identified three of the fatalities as Renato Sobera, Nora Palacios and Wilfredo Mendoza who died from multiple shrapnel wounds in different parts of their bodies.
The Kidapawan police said two of the fatalities died on the spot while the others died while undergoing treatment in local hospitals. One of the fatalities was an un-identified child.
Kidapawan Mayor Luis Malaluan said 26 other people were wounded.
Army Maj. Julieto Ando, spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the explosion occurred at around 3 p.m. as passengers and bystanders crowded the Weena Bus terminal in Barangay Perez in Kidapawan.
"We have deployed soldiers backed by armored personnel carriers and a team from EOD (explosives and ordnance division) to search for more bombs," Ando said.
He said he did not know the motive for the attack, "but this is terrorism."
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which came a week after a bombing in Zamboanga City killed four people, one of them an American Green Beret commando, and wounded two dozen others.
Investigators are eyeing either the Pentagon kidnap-for-ransom gang or the communist New People’s Army (NPA) as the perpetrators of yesterday’s attack in Kidapawan.
Irene Subina of the city social welfare office said the wounded included children.
Citing initial investigation reports, Ando said the improvised explosive device was placed under a concrete bench near the ticketing booth.
Catholic station dxND of the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corp. in Kidapawan, on the other hand, said the bomb was left in between two buses parked at the terminal, located downtown and surrounded by commercial establishments.
Army probers said the bomb was fashioned from incendiary chemicals mixed with nails and shredded cast iron, and rigged with a battery-operated, time-delayed blasting device.
The explosion, according to the probers, destroyed two buses parked nearby and caused damage to the concrete waiting shed where it exploded.
The management of Weena had earlier received a letter from the so-called Suicide Bombers Team or SBT, an extortion ring of the Pentagon gang, demanding a P100,000 monthly protection money or face the consequences if no money was coughed up.
The SBT had claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks in more than a dozen business establishments, including a field office of the WG&A shipping company in Central Mindanao in recent weeks.
But city police chief Superintendent Casirmiro Medes said the attack could have been launched by the NPA to press its demand for the so-called "revolutionary taxes" from the bus company.
"We are looking into the possibility of the involvement of the NPA who in the past were extorting money from the bus firm," he said.
Ando said the NPA and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are possible suspects while also not discounting other groups who might be extorting from the bus company.
"If you remember the NPA has issued a statement that it will launch terrorist activities to prove to the government that it is still strong," Ando said. "This attack was a desperate move (of the NPA)."
Ando said Kidapawan borders an area infested by the NPA and the MILF in North Cotabato.
The NPA, which has been included by the US government in its list of foreign terrorist organizations, is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has waged an insurgency against Manila for 33 years.
Neither the police nor the military have arrested any suspect yet for the latest bombing in Southern Philippines.
Officials blamed the Oct. 2 Zamboanga attack on the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf, which warned a week earlier it would mount attacks on civilian, military and US targets to retaliate for the ongoing government offensive against Muslim rebels in the south.
In early September, the government said it was intensifying security after a suspected al-Qaeda member told US interrogators that the terror group planned to attack unspecified targets in the Philippines.
Communist rebels, who have staged a series of attacks over the last week, also said Wednesday that Philippine military and police camps were targets for guerrilla strikes. — With reports from Paolo Romero, Roel Pareño, AFP
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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