CAGAYAN DE ORO: BOMB BLAST KILLS 6, 46 HURT / NATION ON HEIGHTENED ALERT


CDO EXPLOSION. At least 6 were killed and 37 injured after a homemade bomb exploded in Cagayan de Oro City. Photo EPA/Bobby Lagsa -FROM RAPPLER

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, July 29, 2013
(MANILA BULLETIN) By Mike U. Crismundo, Aaron Recuenco - A suspected improvised explosive device on Friday evening killed 6 people, including a provincial board member and critically wounded 46 others when it went off in a restaurant strip in Cagayan De Oro City on Friday evening.

Initial reports reaching the regional command of PRO 10 said the victims were drinking at an open space outside “Kyla’s Restobar” where a live band was performing near the chain of entertainment bars at the Rosario Arcade, part of the sprawling Limketkai Shopping Complex, when the explosion took place about 11:30 Friday evening.

One of the fatalities in the bomb blast was identified as Roldan Lagbas, 44, provincial board member of Misamis Oriental. Also killed were Dr. Erwin Malaray, Antonio Canete, Ryan Estoce, Emmanuel Palapag, and Antonio Paredes.

The regional command of PRO 10 said Malamay, Lagbas, and Paredes were taken to the hospital where attending physicians declared them dead on arrival. Three other victims died on the spot due to severe shrapnel wounds on their heads and bodies.

The 46 wounded were rushed to public and private hospitals at Polymedic Medical Plaza in Kauswagan, Cagayan University Medical Center, Cagayan de Oro Medical Center, and Northern Mindanao Medical Center.

Identities of the wounded victims are not immediately available as of press time.

The regional command of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines on Saturday placed the entire region on heightened alert, particularly this region’s frontier and capital city in a wake of the blast.

The regional command of Police Regional Office 10 (PRO 10), supported by the 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) deployed more police and military contingent at the downtown area of Cagayan de Oro, particularly in the bomb site, in an effort to secure the more than half-a-million city inhabitants.

Chief Supt. Catalino Rodriguez, regional director of PRO 10 also mobilized the regional and city mobile forces and the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office, in an effort to arrest the perpetrators.

However, as of press time, combined police and military probers cannot still determine the group or individual behind the bomb blast.

Chief Supt. Rodriguez said the ground police investigators are still trying to establish the motive of the bombing, continue to gather evidence at the bombing site and possible identities of the perpetrators.

“We’re still determining the cause of the incident and we are also gathering all evidence at this time,” the region’s top police official said.

The 4th ID spokesman Lt. Col. Leo Bongosia said explosive experts, along with K9’s from the command were already deployed to help in the investigation.

“The type of bomb believed used is an improvised explosive device (IED), but we cannot still determine as of this time because investigation is still going on,” said Col. Bongosia.

Observers here said the Friday night bombing was the worst to have taken place in this premier capital of Northern Mindanao.

Some of the witnesses observed that before the incident happened, an unidentified man hurriedly left his backpack on a chair within the plaza which exploded almost five minutes later.

The impact of the blast shattered the glasses of some of the establishments near the area.

NATIONWIDE ALERT

Immediately after the attack, PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima ordered all regional directors to secure all the potential target of bomb attacks in their respective areas.

"The regional director of Northern Mindanao police, as well as all other regional directors nationwide have already been instructed to immediately and tightly secure all places of heavy public convergence," said Purisima.

Purisima said police commanders in Cagayan de Oro City and Northen Mindanao were also instructed to conduct manhunt operations against all perpetrators and file cases for multiple murder.

"They should not rest until this case is solved," said Purisima.

FROM THE INQUIRER

PH on heightened alert after CDO blast Agence France-Presse 3:17 pm | Sunday, July 28th, 2013 5 303 73

Police investigators look for evidence amongst the ruins and dead bodies of victims after an explosive device went off at a popular restaurant in Cagayan de Oro City Friday night. AFP PHOTO/ JB Deveza

MANILA, Philippines — The government ordered troops and police on heightened alert Sunday after a restaurant attack killed six in its restive southern region, but said there were no clues yet to the culprits.

Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said investigators were reconstructing the bomb site to gather more clues on Friday night’s attack in Cagayan de Oro, a relatively peaceful city in Mindanao, where various rebel groups and armed gangs operate.

“We are doing everything (to determine the suspects). We have placed the police in Mindanao, the intelligence community and the army on heightened alert to prevent a similar attack,” Roxas said over DZBB radio.

Investigators have yet to determine the explosive used in the attack, which hit a bistro packed with at least 100 people. Most were doctors and pharmaceutical representatives who had just attended a national convention at a nearby hotel.

Forty-eight others were wounded in the blast, police said.

Contrary to earlier reports, Roxas said investigators had not found shrapnel or metal fragments at the blast site, which would have indicated an explosive device made from a mortar bomb.

“According to the doctors who did the autopsy report, there were no shrapnel that can be attributed to a grenade explosion,” Roxas said.

“It is also not an IED (improvised explosive device) made from mortar or artillery shell,” he said.

Ordnance experts have found wires and a battery that could have been used as a trigger but not much else.

Roxas’s statement suggested the attack may not have been the work of Muslim militants who operate in other parts of the south and are known to use mortar bombs rigged to a timing device.

Asked whether investigators were looking at any specific group behind the blast and what the motive could be, he said: “If it’s business rivalry, fighting over land, or terrorism we could not say yet until we know all the facts and details.”

Cagayan de Oro is a bustling city that has been relatively unscathed by a decades-old Muslim and communist insurgency that have plagued parts of the south in this largely Catholic country.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim insurgent force, said Sunday it had no forces operating near Cagayan de Oro and condemned the attack as un-Islamic.

The MILF, which is negotiating a peace deal with Manila, was also willing to help track down the perpetrators if asked by the government, said the group’s vice chairman for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar.

“We have an existing agreement to help each other out in interdicting criminal elements,” Jaafar told AFP.

Blast kills 6, injures 28 in Cagayan de Oro By Bobby Lagsa, JB Deveza Inquirer Mindanao 9:20 am | Saturday, July 27th, 2013 60 3916 2108

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — An explosion from a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) killed six and injured at least 28 others in an upscale watering hole at about 11:30 p.m. Friday.

The dead from the blast at the Lim Ket Kai complex included an incumbent board member of Misamis Oriental, a doctor, and sales representatives of medical companies.

Killed instantly were Anthony Canete of Iligan City, Ryan Estose of Megaheights Subdivision, Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City, and Emmanuel Palafox of Zamboanga City. All three reportedly were employees of pharmaceutical Sandoz Philippines Corporation.

Misamis Oriental board member Roldan Lagbas, a scion of a political clan in the province, died after being brought to the Cagayan de Oro Medical Center.

The two others who also died after being brought to another hospital were identified as Dr. Erwin Malanay and Antonio C. Paredes, a pharmaceutical sales representative.

Cagayan de Oro City Police Director Graciano Mijares, in an interview at the site of the blast, said PNP regional director PC Superintendent Catalino Bagaslao Rodriguez Jr. has ordered the formation of a special investigation task group composed of units of both the regional and city police to look into the incident.

The explosion, which broke glass panes, upturned tables and chairs, and damaged cars parked about 30 meters away, was heard as far as the national road, about 4 kilometers away.

Police investigators are looking into the possibility that CCTV cameras at Kyla’s Bistro and Candy’s, adjoining restaurants at the Lim Ket Kai complex may shed light on the identities of the suspects.

Mijares, however, declined to say what type of explosive may have been used.

“We will have to wait for the results of the investigation of our post blast investigators,” Mijares said.

Businessman Noel Arcenas, who rents out a sound system for the party venue and who survived the blast, said there were at least 100 people at the popular restaurant row when the explosion occurred.

The row of restaurants is usually transformed into a large party venue with a live band playing during Friday and Saturday nights with patrons spilling into the parking areas fronting the restaurants.

“I felt then heard the blast,” Arcenas, who was about 15 meters away from the epicentre of the blast, said.

“I looked around and saw this ball of white smoke,” Arcenas said.

“People were running away bloodied and survivors were dragging at least seven or eight people away from the blast site,” Arcenas said.

Some 800 doctors who are Lung Specialists (Pulmonologists) and other allied health professionals from all over the country are also in the city for the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) 16th Midyear National Convention at the Grand Caprice, Limketkai Center.

“That is probably the reason why there were a lot of doctors and medical sales representatives at the party venue,” Cagayan de Oro City vice mayor Ian Acenas said.

“I call on the City government to thoroughly look into this matter as this has an adverse impact on the peace and order situation of the city,” Acenas said.

Misamis Oriental vice governor Joey Pelaez, a colleague of Lagbas, said he was skeptical that the blast may have targeted the first term board member.

“Roldan Lagbas has no known enemies,” Pelaez said, “he is a neophyte politician despite coming from a known political clan.”

“It is difficult to understand what may have motivated the suspects to undertake this terror act,” Pelaez said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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