Wednesday, August 29, 2018

'Powerful explosion': Sultan Kudarat blast toll rises to 2

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): 'Powerful explosion': Sultan Kudarat blast toll rises to 2

ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat -- Another victim of a deadly explosion here on Tuesday night died before dawn today, August 29, raising the death toll to two, police said.

Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, speaking for the Regional Police Office in Region 12 (PRO-12), said 39 victims have been rushed to various hospitals after a bomb laden-motorbike parked beside a row of “ukay-ukay” (second-hand clothing) stalls exploded in Barangay Kalawag 3 at 8:34 p.m.

Of the number, two have died, 37 were confined to various hospitals.  

The blast site was brimming with shoppers amid the celebration for the town's foundation day and its Hamungaya Festival, which began Monday and set to conclude on Thursday.

Gonzales identified the fatalities as 7-year-old Davy Shane Alayon of Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat town, and Lenie Ombrog, 52 of Barangay Kalawag here.

Among the injured were M/Sgt. Melchor Capilitan and Sgt. Timjar Hambali of the Army's 33rd Infantry Battalion; 25-year old Welmark John Lapidez of Barangay Masiag here, who is listed as critically wounded; and Pastor Raymundo Malves, 60.

“Most of the victims are already out of the hospital,” Mayor Marites Pallasigue of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat said. “Those with serious leg injuries remain at the Isulan Kudarat provincial hospital.”

Francis Suerte, 26, of Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat, said he was one of the hundreds of customers at the ukay-ukay area when the bomb exploded. 

'Powerful explosion'

“Very powerful explosion. I dropped and crawled my way out of the pile of used clothing,” Suerte said, adding he was only some three meters from the parked motorbike where the bomb was placed.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bomb attack, the deadliest in the series of attempts attributed to the IS linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said the KM-450 military vehicle parked nearby shielded from the blast other people milling around the ukay-ukay stores.

“The KM 450 absorbed much of the shrapnel, saving many other civilians who flocked to see the Hamungaya Festival of Isulan,” Encinas said. 

“The blast protective cover installed on sides of KM 450 had protected the troops from serious injuries,” Encinas added.

Isulan, the capital of Sultan Kudarat province, is celebrating its 61st founding anniversary and the 7th Hamungaya Festival.

Military and police sources said they are initially looking at the possibility that BIFF was responsible for the attack.

Encinas pointed out that the ISIS-inspired BIFF group of Sulaiman Tudon had repeatedly attempted to send improvised bombs to Tacurong and Isulan after the group’s attempt to sow terror in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao was thwarted in July this year.

Encinas and Gonzales said the investigation is still ongoing as of posting time.

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