Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Army, cops hunt down suspects in Maguindanao school bombing

From the Philippine News Agency (May 4): Army, cops hunt down suspects in Maguindanao school bombing 

Sultan Kudarat -- Police and military authorities have been deployed in two Maguindanao towns where public schools to be used as voting centers on Monday's national and local elections have been subjected to grenade attacks.

Senior Inspector Esmael Madin, police chief of Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao, said elements of the 37th Infantry Battalion have been deployed in town to help the local police ensure the safety of voters and personnel of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

This after unidentified gunmen bombed another school in Maguindanao Tuesday night, the eight school to be used as polling precincts on Monday subjected to grenade attacks since last week.

The bombing has sent fears among teachers who will be serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIS) for the national and local elections.

“The grenade attacks occurred while the town was experiencing heavy rains," Madin said, adding that the Sandakalan Day Care Center in Barangay Dalumangcob sustained damaged due to explosion.

Madin said the school will be used as voting center for the national and local elections in Sultan Kudarat.

He said nobody was hurt in the attack but the locals fear similar incident to happen on Election Day.

Seven schools in nearby Sultan Mastura town were subjected to grenade attacks and strafing by still unidentified gunmen.

Madin believed the bombings of the school in Barangay Dalumangcob was politically motivated. "The armed men wanted to develop fear among poll officials and voters so they will not come out on Monday," he said of the suspects.

No group has claimed responsibility for the series of bombings in Maguindanao schools but police and military authorities are not taking any chances.

More troops have been deployed to Sultan Mastura and Sultan Kudarat which has more than 19,000 voters.

Madin said police and military personnel are working 24 hours to thwart similar attacks in the future or during the run-up to Monday's national and local elections.

The poll body has listed four towns in Maguindanao as "areas of immediate concern" due to the presence of armed men, intense political rivalry and violence in previous elections.

Sultan Mastura and Sultan Kudarat were not in the list of the Comelec. Following the incident, security and poll officials are considering putting the towns under Comelec control.

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