Cotabato offers reward for bomb info

COTABATO CITY -- The City Government here has offered a reward to anybody who could provide information that could help preempt future bombing attempts and arrest those behind bombing incidents in the city.

The offer came following military intelligence reports citing plans of saboteurs to blow up three more bombs here this month.

"I am condemning the bombing incidents, as I would like to clarify that I am offering bounties to get the culprits and charge them before the court," Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. told media in a press conference.

He did not disclose any amount.

Earlier Wednesday, a bomb fashioned from an 81-millimeter mortar round failed to explode near the main gate of Shariff Kabunsuan Complex, the provisional seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) here. It did not cause any injuries.

Only the blasting cap went off, attracting attention but failing to ignite the attached mortar round.

Military and police bomb experts successfully defused the bomb planted at a parked vehicle near the government complex gate.

Western Mindanao police operations chief Felicisimo Khu said that while troops were defusing the bomb, a cellphone attached to it rang as the attackers apparently tried one last time to detonate it.

On Tuesday, twin roadside explosions rocked Sinsuat Avenue here as Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo was visiting Shariff Kabunsuan Complex for a public forum on the selection and screening of officers-in-charge (OICs) for the autonomous region.

A Supreme Court decision on same day, however, scrapped the OICs screening after it issued a temporary restraining order suspending the government's proposal to synchronize the Armm polls to the 2013 national polls from its original schedule of August 8 this year.

"Today's (Wednesday) bomb at the Armm gate was intended to harm people while that of Tuesday's bomb at Sinsuat Avenue was meant just to scare participants at the OIC public forum at the Armm compound situated a kilometer away from the bomb site," Khu said.

Khu said the Sinsuat Avenue bomb incident might have been carried out by disgruntled parties whose nominees for the "shortlist" of OICs invited for the screening forum were not included.

He noted though that the bomb that exploded at the Armm gate was the first of four bombs that terrorists plan to plant in this city this month.

"We are looking for three more bombs where the saboteurs are eyeing three local Catholic churches as targets according to a September 3 text message I received (from my sources)," the police official said.

Khu said Task Force Kutawato, a joint military-police anti-crime group, is also monitoring the water tributaries surrounding the city where the bombs are possibly being sneaked into the city by the terrorists.

"We plan to catch these culprits soon with the help of the local populace," he said.

Cotabato City is a delta crisscrossed by 32 small rivers and creeks. The two biggest tributaries traversing the locality are Tamontaka River and Rio Grande de Mindanao, acknowledged as the biggest waterway in Mindanao. (Edgardo Fuerzas/AP/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Related story: Explosion hits Cotabato City anew

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