Monday, August 16, 2010

Hunt for more suspects in Zamboanga suicide bombing continues

Two members of the Philippine National Police SWAT team guard the perimeter of the Zamboanga International Airport after a suicide bombing Thursday, August 5, 2010 in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 16, 2010) – Philippine authorities continue to hunt down other suspects in the deadly airport suicide bombing in the southern port city of Zamboanga.

Police have so far identified at least six men involved in the August 5 attack which targeted the governor of Sulu province, Sakur Tan, who was among the more than two dozen people wounded in the blast outside the Zamboanga International Airport.

The bomber, Reynaldo Apilado, and Hatimil Haron, were killed in the blast. Police said four more men – Allan Sabudin, Muamar Astali, Adong Salahuddin and another suspect identified only as Abs – were involved in the attack.

Officials said Haron, a native of Basilan province, was an accomplice of the bomber, who lived on a seaside village of Caragasan in Zamboanga City.

National police chief Jesus Versoza said the attack was connected to the failed assassination of Tan last year in Sulu. “This is connected to the failed assassination of Governor Tan last year. We are looking into all angles and motives of the attack,” he said.

Tan survived a roadside bombing in Patikul town, but ten of his companions, including a town mayor, were wounded in the attack blamed to the militant group Abu Sayyaf.

Two of the Abu Sayyaf bombers were captured last year in a firefight with police commandos and pointed to Tan’s political foes as the mastermind in the failed assassination.

Tan said more witnesses to the latest bombing have come out in the open and implicated several people as behind the attack. “Witnesses are coming out now and telling authorities that some people are also involved in the bombing,” he said, adding, authorities are now investigating the reports.

Regional police chief Edwin Corvera last week said they received information from people claiming to have knowledge or were involved in the failed assassination of Tan. He said most of the information was passed to them through a police hotline they put up after the bombing.

He said information they received allegedly tagged a defeated congressional aspirant in Sulu province, Temogen Tulawie, as behind the airport bombing while another implicated two defeated town mayors in Sulu who are known political foes of the governor, and several policemen and that a bounty was put up by the mastermind to assassinate Tan. A third politician in Sulu, who lost in the May elections, was also implicated in the bombing.

Tulawie has denied involvement in the latest bombing, but police said he was also one of the suspects in last year’s failed assassination of Tan.

The National Bureau of Investigation also started its own probe into the failed assassination of Tan and met with the governor in Zamboanga City just recently. But details or progress of its investigation was unknown.

Tan, a known philanthropist and a religious man, was re-elected in May as governor of Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, where municipal mayors were urging him to run as regional governor in next year’s polls. (Mindanao Examiner)

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