6 Maguindanao poll precincts bombed | Inquirer News
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6 Maguindanao poll precincts bombed

/ 02:18 AM April 29, 2016

SULTAN MASTURA, Maguindanao—At least six school buildings here, which had been designated as voting precincts for the May 9 elections, were attacked by still unidentified men before dawn on Wednesday, according to police.

No one was injured in the attacks but the buildings suffered damage from the explosions, according to Senior Insp. Wendylyn Banico, the town police chief.

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Banico said residents also panicked due to the explosions, which could be related to the elections.

The suspects, Banico said, apparently used 40 mm rifle grenades fired from a distance, based on shrapnel that Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) agents recovered at the blast sites.

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Banico identified the bombed schools as Tapayan Central School, the Dagurungan Elementary School, the Tuka Elementary School, the Darping Elementary School, the Tareken Primary School and the Simuay Seashore Elementary School, all located southwest of Sultan Mastura.

Investigators also found bullet holes in the concrete school buildings and believed to be caused by M-16 Armalite rifles, he said.

Banico said an investigation is ongoing. “We can only surmise at this time that it could be election-related,” he said.

Sultan Mastura is not among Maguindanao towns listed by Comelec, police and military as “areas of immediate concern” in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Earlier listed as possible “hot spots” in the elections are the towns of Sultan sa Barongis, General Salipada K. Pendatun and Datu Salibo.

The three Maguindanao towns are among 13 areas in ARMM, which have been declared areas of concern in the coming elections.

Michael Abas, director of the Commission on Elections in the ARMM, said the other areas of concern are Tugaya, Butig, Sultan Dumalondong and Masiu in Lanao del Sur; the municipalities of Tipo-Tipo and Al Barka in Basilan and the towns of Pata, Panglima Estino and Lugus in Sulu province.

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These areas had been wracked by violence in recent days due to intense political rivalries.

On Jan. 2, supporters of Pata Mayor Anton Burahan were attacked, wounding three of them.

Butig has been identified as the lair of the Maute brothers which heads a local terror group that seeks to ally itself with the terror network Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS).

Tawi-Tawi did not make it to the list of hot spots this year, in contrast to the 2010 and 2013 elections when the province of 366,550 people had one election area of concern (EAC) and 34 election areas of immediate concern (EAIC).

In February this year, Bongao town Mayor Jasper Que, who is not seeking reelection, was wounded in an ambush by unidentified men in Zamboanga City but the attack has not been proven to be election elated.

Abas said more soldiers would be sent to hot spots and special board of election inspectors are being formed in these areas.

But in a recent visit to Maguindanao, Philippine National Police Director General Ricardo Marquez told reporters he would rather see police officers deployed as peacekeepers than voting result tabulators. Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: blast, Bomb, Bombing, Explosion, Maguindanao, School, school building, Voting Precinct
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