From the Philippine Star (Nov 25): Police on high alert in North Cotabato
North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza (second from right) consoles relatives of the victims of the deadly bombing in M'lang town on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. John Unson
Police on Tuesday tightened security in the province's 17 towns and capital, Kidapawan City, to prevent a repeat of Sunday’s bombing in M'lang town that left three residents dead and 23 injured.
The bombing is the second in the province in just two weeks. A college student, Monique Mantawil, was killed while 15 others were injured in a powerful explosion that rocked Kabacan municipality early this month.
North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza, chairperson of the inter-agency provincial peace and order council, said she has directed the provincial police to enlist the help of local Muslim and Christian religious leaders and civil society organizations to help investigators identify those responsible for the deadly bombing in the town proper of M'lang, on Sunday night.
M'lang Mayor Joselito Pinol said there are witnesses now helping the municipal police investigate the incident.
One of the witnesses volunteered to help police cartographers make out how the two suspected bombers looked like. Initial police reports said two men on board a motorcycle left an improvied bomb on a bench near a billiard table inside a makeshift shelter near the municipal plaza.
Local authorities believe that the bomb was remotely detonated using a mobile phone.
The regional police office in General Santos City, which has jurisdiction over North Cotabato, dispatched on Monday morning a team of investigators to help identify the bombers.
Highly-placed Army intelligence officials said there is a possibility that the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is responsible for the bombing.
The sources said the attack was in retaliation to the military’s recent bombardment of BIFF positions at the border of Pikit, North Cotabato and Datu Piang, Maguindanao.
Mendoza’s office has extended initial assistance to the families of the three fatalities in the M'lang bombing and to the injured victims now being treated in different hospitals.
Mendoza said the police also need to look into the possible connections of all the recent bombings in the province, which all happened on a Sunday.
Three worshipers were killed while four others were injured about two months ago when an unidentified man fired a 40-millimeter grenade projectile to a United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) chapel in the town proper of Pikit.
The bombing in Kabacan town two weeks ago was also pulled off on a Sunday.
Army intelligence units in North Cotabato are now helping the police investigate the Kabacan and M'lang bombings.