Police eye extortion in Sultan Kudarat blast
ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines — Police are eyeing extortion as the primary motive behind the explosion at the public market here on Saturday morning that injured eight people.
“Possible motive is extortion but we are not discounting possible involvement of extremists. We are still investigating,” said Lt. Col. Joven Bagaygay, Isulan police chief.
Bagaygay said that Mayor Marites Palasigue received on Monday a call from a group asking for money so the town would be spared from bombing.
The group demanded a monthly “protection money” of P250,000, Bagaygay told the Inquirer.
While not naming the group, Bagaygay described it as also the one responsible for previous bomb attacks in the town.
The improvised explosive device (IED) used in the blast was placed in a row of parked motorcycles in front of the town public market and went off around 7 a.m.
The Isulan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office identified those injured as Niño Virgo, 28; Jaren Amigo, 24; Jay Carnaso, 30; off-duty militiaman Jomar Aquino, 31; Nasim Gulano, 24; and traffic enforcer Terencio Cagadas, 35, all of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat; Gerald Cartagena, 28, of Surallah, South Cotabato; and Richard Arancillo, 45, of New Lagao, Tacurong City.
Based on closed-circuit television footage obtained by the police, the bomb was planted the night before the blast by a male dressed up as a female. The bomber got to the area on a motorcycle and left the explosive device beside a parked motorcycle at the market, Bagaygay said.
“We will enhance the footage for possible identification of the suspect,” Bagaygay added.
Prior to the blast, Bagaygay noted that text messages have been circulating about an impending bomb attack on the town, similar to the information he was fed when he assumed his duties as the town’s police chief in May.
An Army intelligence officer who spoke to the Inquirer said the IED has the signature of a Moro extremist group that also set off similar bombs here in the past. —With reports from Melvin Gascon and the wires
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