PH cops eye IS-linked armed group in Koronadal blast

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KORONADAL CITY, Philippines — Police authorities blamed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-allied Moro armed group in the bombing near a Catholic Church here Sunday that left two persons injured.

Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, police director for the SOCCSKSARGEN region, told a news conference that the suspects also used a woman to plant another improvised bomb in front of a convenience store, about three blocks away from the St. Anthony Parish Cathedral where the first IED went off.

“Diversionary tactic of the BIFF because of the losses they experienced the past few days….we have arrests made and the Army continued offensives against them in Maguindanao,” Morales said of the 12:50 p.m. blast.

Another suspected bomb was recovered at around 1:40 p.m. near a convenience store located about three blocks away from the church but was detonated by explosives ordnance disposal (EOD) experts.

He said blast fragments hit a driver of a passing tricycle identified as Dindo Zamora, 39, and bystander Generosa Sumargo, 44.

The two were treated for minor injuries at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital, he said.

The perpetrators have plotted to set off three improvised bombs in the city’s commercial district here. One went off front the flower shop on Rizal Street beside the cathedral, another at 747 convenience store along GenSan Drive and the third near Ela Building, also along GenSan Drive.

Police investigators shifting through the debris following the explosion of an improvised bomb beside the St. Anthony Parish Cathedral in Koronadal City April 29, 2018 that hurt 2 civilians. -Photo courtesy of Karl Mike Tabingo

The secondary and tertiary bomb failed to explode. The police bomb experts deactivated the explosives minutes after the primary blast.

Citing police reports, Morales said a woman was seen bringing beside the convenience store a plastic and then left. A CCTV footage is being examined to determine the identities of the suspects.

Koronadal City Mayor Peter Miguel has appealed to the public to remain calm but remain alert on suspicious boxes and cellophanes left unattended by unidentified persons.

He also said that Koronadal had been in the radar of terrorist organizations. Stricter checkpoints around the city and implementation of stricter curfew hours are being considered to prevent similar attacks.

He also lauded the civilians for alerting the police on the secondary and tertiary bombs. –Edwin O. Fernandez/Newsline.ph

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