North Cotabato reels from grenade attacks
KIDAPAWAN CITY—Officials of North Cotabato and Kabacan town have jointly put up a P100,000 reward for information leading to the identities and arrest of those behind the series of grenade attacks in the province this month.
At least seven persons have been injured so far from the attacks, police said.
The latest incident occurred in Matalam town on Tuesday night, when unidentified men lobbed a grenade on a quarry site, wounding a worker. Chief Insp. Sunny Leoncito, municipal police chief, identified the victim as Jeffrey Sawal, a resident of Barangay Marbel.
On Sunday night, a similar explosion rocked the parking area of a gasoline station in Barangay Poblacion in Kabacan. No one was hurt but residents were thrown into panic.
The day before, five people, including two children, were hurt when a fragmentation grenade blew up on busy Rizal and Malvar Streets. On Thursday afternoon, a 4-year-old girl was hurt when men riding on a motorcycle tossed a grenade near a police outpost along the national highway.
Mayor Herlo Guzman announced during a meeting of the Municipal Peace and Order Council on Monday that the local government would be offering P50,000 to anyone who can help police in identifying and arresting the bombers. Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said she would give the same amount to informants.
“This is to encourage those knowledgeable to come into the open to help and to bring the suspects to jail,” Guzman said
Asked for a possible motive of the attacks, Guzman said these could be efforts to portray Kabacan as an unsafe place. The town hosts one of the country’s largest state-run universities in terms of area and student population.
The reelectionist mayor said the motive was more likely political in nature and the aim was to discredit his leadership.
Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum, provincial police director, agreed that the attacks could be politically motivated. But he clarified that investigators were still validating the
angle and that they still had no specific suspects in mind.
The police also believed that all suspects belonged to a single group as they were using the same type of fragmentation grenades, Tagum said.
To beef up the town’s security, they suggested the revival of Task Force Kabacan, which will be manned by policemen and soldiers. The group will “strengthen chokepoints in the area,” Mendoza said.
Tagum said police visibility and patrols would be intensified in a bid to thwart future attacks.
Mendoza said the provincial government would maximize the use of barangay police action teams (BPATs). “We are presently conducting refresher training course for BPAT members in different areas to better equip them in their job of securing and maintaining peace and order,” she said.
She called for unity and vigilance among the residents in the wake of the attacks. Williamor Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao
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