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10 hurt in blasts in 2 Zamboanga City villages

/ 08:08 PM October 09, 2011

ZAMBOANGA City, Philippines—Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits set off two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), minutes apart, in two barangays (villages) here Sunday as the city was preparing for Tuesday’s start of a Catholic feast, authorities said.

Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre, deputy commander for Marine operations of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao, said 13 people suffered burns and shrapnel wounds in the explosions in Guiwan and San Roque.

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A police list of casualties showed 10 victims but Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre, deputy commander for Marine operations of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao, said 13 people suffered burns and shrapnel wounds in the explosions in Guiwan and San Roque.

The 10 people identified by the police report as having been injured in the blasts were: Ricky Gagaracruz, Marlon Candido, Rizaldo de la Peña and Nasser Ike Castiri, who were injured in the cockpit attack;  Marvin Artes, Ronnie Munding, Jeffrey Jimenez, Jerome Tuyor, Jimboy Bantisil and Christopher de los Reyes, who were wounded in the Guiwan explosion.

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The blast victims were being treated at the Western Mindanao Medical Center, Mayor Celso Lobregat said.

“It could be possible that the incidents were perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf or other groups to disrupt the forthcoming Fiesta Pilar celebration,” Cenabre said.

The Feast of Our Lady of Pilar will start Tuesday, according to Mayor Celso Lobregat.

Lobregat declined to confirm Cenabre’s theory on the identity of the perpetrators pending result of investigations being conducted by the police.

He said the explosions would not affect the fiesta celebration.

Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo, acting city police chief, said four people were injured in the blast that occurred inside the cockpit in Barangay San Roque while a cockfight was being held around 12:35 p.m.

About 15 minutes later, the second blast took place on the second floor of the Red Palm Pension House near the bus terminal in Barangay Guiwan.

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“Six persons, including four visiting boxers for Monday’s Golpe-golpe de Zamboanga, were injured,” De Ocampo said.

He said the police could not issue any statement yet on the possible motive or identity of the perpetrators.

“We are still waiting for the result of the assessments being conducted by our Scene of the Crime Operatives and our explosive and ordnance teams in the area,” De Ocampo said.

Lorna Heramis said she and her three employees were preparing to open her food stall when a loud blast ripped through the arena about an hour before it was to open for weekend cockfighting, which usually draws large numbers of customers. The blast damaged the roof of her stall, but she and her employees managed to escape uninjured.

“We heard a deafening explosion, then there was darkness and a fire,” Heramis said. “I hugged my employees, and we saw three bloodied men running away from the cockpit arena.”

Bomb attacks by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen had been recorded here in recent years, killing or wounding dozens of civilians.

These included the October 2002 explosion at the Fort Pilar Shrine here, in which a soldier was killed.

In May 2008, two people were also killed and more than a dozen others wounded when a bomb went off outside the base of the Philippine Air Force here.

The blast also damaged a building in front of the military base, where US soldier have been maintaining a small camp.—with AP

Originally posted at 05:53 pm | Sunday, October 09, 2011

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Acts of terror, Explosions, Philippines - Regions, Unrest, Zamboanga City
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