Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2 'persons of interest' in IED planting near US embassy now in custody

From InterAksyon (Nov 30): 2 'persons of interest' in IED planting near US embassy now in custody

Computer-generated police sketch of the man seen leaving a package near the US embassy in Manila.

(UPDATE2 - 4:33 pm.) Police now have in custody two "persons of interest" in connection with the planting of an improvised explosive device near the US embassy in Manila on Monday, the chief of the National Capital Region Police Office confirmed Wednesday.

The first man was arrested Tuesday night in Bulakan, Bulacan on Wednesday and the second, a man from Caloocan City, was taken in for questioning on Wednesday, said Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde.

Both men were tracked through a combination of intelligence work and with the help of a computer-generated composite sketch of the man seen by witnesses as having left a package inside a trash can near the embassy, hours before it was found by a street cleaner.

The IED, described as bearing a similar "signature" as that used in the Sept. 2 Davao market bombing that killed 15 people, was taken by the Manila Police District and safely detonated. They said if it had gone off, it could have hurt people within a 100-meter radius.

Reports reaching the National Operation Center in Camp Crame earlier said Rayson Kilala Sakdal, alias Rashid Kilala, was arrested by a joint team from the Manila Police District and Bulacan provincial police a day after the suspect's sketch was released. He is said to have hailed from Marawi City.

Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa earlier the sketch was that of the driver of the taxi in which the bomb was transported.

"Siya mismo ang driver. Siya ang may dala (ng IED). Hindi natin alam kung terorista siya na nag-rent ng taxi o taxi driver siya na nilapitan ng terorista na paki-deliver ito doon, pakilagay mo sa trash bin (He was the driver. He brought the IED. We don't know if he is a terrorist who rented a taxi or a taxi driver who was approched by terrorists to delivery the bomb and place it in the trash bin)," Dela Rosa said in a press conference on Tuesday after the sketch was released.

Dela Rosa said if he was the taxi driver was not aware that what he was ferrying was a bomb, he would have agreed to the request especially if offered a hefty fee.

The bomb, crafted from an 81-mm mortar shell and set to be triggered through a mobile phone, was placed in the trash bin just around 100 meters from the embassy and was discovered by a street sweeper.

It was safely detonated by the MPD bomb squad.

Authorities said it was similar to that used in the bomb attack in Davao City that killed 15 persons and wounded scores more on September 2. That attack has been blamed on the Maute Group, against which the military has launched an offensive in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

On Tuesday, seven troops of the Presidential Security Group and two soldiers from another unit were wounded when a convoy bearing President Rodrigo Duterte's advance party was struck by roadside bombs in Marawi City.

Despite the incident, Duterte is visiting Lanao del Sur Wednesday.

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