IED blast heightens tension in Ecija town with 2 mayoral seat claimants
JAEN, Nueva Ecija—An improvised explosive device (IED) exploded at the back of the public market here late on Tuesday (Feb. 9), police said.
This was the second IED explosion in the town amid an ongoing mayoral row.
Maj. Baltazar Corpuz, town police chief, said no one was hurt in the explosion as most of the market stalls were already closed at that time.
Corpuz said the explosion was carried out to sow “panic and fear” in the area.
Investigators recovered scattered suspected ammonium nitrate, orange polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe, wires, mobile phone key pad and battery, nails and parts of a washing machine timer in the blast site.
The IED was placed beneath sacks of garbage and was wrapped in a plastic container to avoid detection, police said.
Police have secured a witness, the Inquirer learned.
Security cameras, which were controlled at the municipal hall, were not working at the time of the blast, investigators said.
The first IED explosion happened on Dec. 20 at the gate of the municipal hall.
It came days after a regional trial court ruled that Mayor Sylvia Austria lost the May 2019 elections to her rival, Antonio Prospero Esquivel.
Esquivel assumed the post after Austria voluntarily stepped down and appealed the case at the Commission on Elections, which had ruled in favor of Austria.
On Feb. 6, a hand grenade was hurled at the home of Austria.
The grenade, described as “a highly explosive M67,” did not explode. It was thrown at 2:39 a.m. by motorcycle-riding men who were caught by security cameras.
On Wednesday (Feb. 10) Gov. Aurelio Umali appealed to the Department of the Interior and Local Government to implement the order of the Comelec’s Second Division reinstating Austria.
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