Central Mindanao police on heightened alert due to Cotabato City cathedral bombing

July 5, 2009 10:30 pm 

MANILA, July 5 –Police have placed all units in Central Mindanao under heightened alert following the bombing in front of the Immaculate Conception cathedral in Cotabato City Sunday morning.

Five people were killed while at least 40 others were wounded when an improvised explosive device went off at Elsie Lechon Haus in front of the Immaculate Conception cathedral along Quezon Avenue in Cotabato City at about 8:40 a.m. today.

PNP Chief, Director General Jesus A. Verzosa directed officials of police regional office 12, under Chief Supt. Josefino Cataluña, to closely coordinate with the Cotabato City crisis management committee chaired by Mayor Muslimin Sema.

"Our immediate concern at the moment is to attend to the casualties, particularly the 38 wounded victims who were brought to different hospitals, said Sr. Supt Willie Dangane Sr., Cotabato City police chief.

"At the same time, we are also initiating incident management measures to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. The last thing we need is a panic situation in other key cities in the region," Dangane said.

Police Director Felizardo Serapio Jr., PNP head for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, meanwhile, alerted police regional chiefs in Central Mindano, Western Mindanao and ARMM to implement target-hardening measures and intensify intelligence operations to prevent similar incidents to happen in other areas of Mindanao.

Cotabato City police operatives have taken into custody a certain Rico T. Aburva, 34 years old, and a resident of barangay Dalumangcob, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Cataluña said the suspect was arrested inside the cathedral compound after witnesses pointed to him as among those responsible for the explosion.

Police investigators were also coordinating with officials of the nearby Central Bank office of Cotabato City for the possibility that the incident might have been recorded by the bank's close circuit tv cameras. (PNA)

RMA/PR/rsm

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