4th blast rocks Cotabato City in 11 days
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Another blast rocked the city on Wednesday evening, this time, just outside the headquarters of the 6th Civil-Military Office on PC Hill here.
It was the fourth explosion that took place here since Nov. 14, police authorities said.
No one was reported hurt in the 6:15 p.m. blast but it partially damaged the bamboo perimeter fence of the 6th Civil Military Battalion headquarters.
The military here has been bracing for grenade attacks since September, when two soldiers of the Army’s Special Forces Battalion manning a detachment at the heart of the city were killed in a rifle grenade attack.
Since November 14, four grenade attacks were recorded in the city that left four persons injured, including two soldiers.
Senior Supt. Raul Supiter, Cotabato City police director, said the blast at CMO headquarters was believed to have been fired by motorcycle-riding men.
“We are following up a lead,” he said.
The CMO headquarters was located along Veterans Avenue, which serves as detour for motorists from the downtown area to Mabini St.
Col. Ranulfo Sevilla, 5th Special Forces Battalion commander, who lost two men in previous rifle grenade attacks, blamed a notorious syndicate who wanted to get back at the military for previous operations.
He named Ruben Montes, a leader of a gang operating in Cotabato City whose three followers, including his wife, were killed in a shootout with SF forces along SK Pendatun Avenue.
Montes was arrested for gun possession and was charged accordingly but was freed on Nov. 13 on court order after posting property bail bond.
The next day, Sevilla said, Montes and his men fired a rifle grenade at the Cotabato Light and Power Co., triggering a city-wide brownout. It was followed by a rifle grenade attack on an Army KM-450 vehicle that injured two soldiers and two civilians.
The following day, a hand grenade was lobbed at a bingo center along Sinsuat Ave. but it did not explode.
“We believed all these were the works of Montes because he was capable, he had an axe to grind against the SF and is protected by a local official,” Sevilla told reporters without naming the official. SFM
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