By JOSEPH JUBELAG and MARTIN A. SADONGDONG
GENERAL SANTOS CITY — At least eight people, including a six-year-old girl, were wounded when a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) went off in front of a pharmacy in Crossing Makar, Barangay Apopong, this city yesterday morning.
Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, regional police spokesman, said the IED exploded in front of a branch of a popular pharmacy chain near Hadano 6 Park in Crossing Makar at 11:40 a.m.
Gonzales identified the wounded as Joana Bless Alipio, 6; Yvonne Guyos, 19; Claire Uozia, 24; Lanie Alipio, 34; John Lennon Calary, 22; Felipe Regios,
63; Marlon Yadao, 30; and Anton Fallo, 24.
According to a doctor from St. Elizabeth Hospital, the victims sustained wounds on their lower extremities but were declared out of danger.
Citing an initial report from the Soccsksargen Police Regional Office (PRO-12), Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesman, said the explosion also damaged a tent and a sports utility vehicle (SUV) parked on the road.
Explosive ordnance disposal teams of the General Santos City Police Office and AFP Joint Task Force General Santos immediately conducted paneling/
assessment in the area.
Media reports indicated that before the explosion, some witnesses saw two men onboard a single motorcycle leave a bag beside the establishment.
The explosion occurred barely a month after the twin bombings in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat – also in the Soccsksargen region, which claimed five lives and wounded 48 others.
Police forces in Mindanao are currently in full alert status after the recent bombings.
On August 28, an IED went off in the middle of a town festival in Barangay Kalawag 3, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. Three persons were killed in the said blast while 36 were injured.
Another IED exploded in Barangay Kalawag 2, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on September 2, killing three persons and wounding 12 more.
Police have identified and charged 25 members of an alleged breakaway faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) as the ones behind the first Isulan town bombing.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said that he had also tasked police forces in the region to intensify conduct of checkpoints, police visibility patrols, and focused intelligence and law enforcement operations.
“I have directed the mobilization of all available police security forces in pursuit operations against persons responsible for the latest act of terrorism
in General Santos City,” said Albayalde.
“We assure the public of our keen resolve and commitment to bring before the bar of justice those responsible for this dastardly and vicious act,” he added.
Meanwhile, Malacañang has denounced the latest bombing in General Santos City and promised to hunt down the culprits.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said authorities have started an investigation into the incident which he claimed was a “brazen attack to justice.”
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s explosion that hit General Santos City which left scores of people injured. This comes at an unfortunate time when the nation is reeling from the effects of Ompong,” Roque said.
“Authorities are now conducting an investigation. We vow to bring the perpetrators of this brazen attack to justice,” he added. (With reports from Aaron B. Recuenco, Francis T. Wakefield, and Genalyn D. Kabiling)