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3 blasts rock Lanao Norte on the eve of plebiscite

By FROILAN GALLARDO
Special Correspondent . 

ILIGAN City–Explosions rocked three towns in Lanao del Norte on the eve of the plebiscite on the inclusion of six towns to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Camp Alagar spokesperson Supt. Surki Sereñas said no casualties were reported in the explosions in Kauswagan and Lala town.

A third explosion was reported in Sultan Naga Dimaporo town at around 10 pm on Tuesday.

Peace Secretary Carlito Galvez said the explosives were blasting caps and did not cause any damage.

“The information stating that it was an alleged grenade or IED attack is premature and not validated. There were even reports that the explosions came from firecrakers. The information did not come from us,” said Sereñas, adding it was confirmed that no one was hurt in the explosions.

Sereñas said the explosive in Kauswagan was placed beside a dump truck parked behind the town’s multi-purpose gym.

He said in the town of Lala, explosive ordnance personnel exploded a suspicious looking bag left near the market.

“This are simply scare tactics and are the handiwork of those who want to sow fear and panic among the people of Lanao del Norte and derail the conduct of a peaceful and orderly plebiscite,” Sereñas said.

Over 2,000 policemen from the Visayas  officers were deployed to augment the security in Lanao del Norte in time for the second round of the plebiscite yesterday.

The explosions have raised fears among Lanao del Norte residents and at least 60 families or 258 families have fled to neighboring Ozamiz City.

Ozamiz city disaster risk reduction management officer Rico Guangco Jr., said the evacuees started trickling as early as Feb. 2.

Guangco said many of evacuee crossed to Ozamiz on board dump trucks and pumpboats negotiating the Panguil Bay.

“Some of those interviewed said they saw armed men roaming around their place amid the frenzy of campaigning for the BOL, hence their decision to seek refuge with relatives in Ozamiz City,” Guangco said.

Senior Supt. Leopoldo Cabanag, provincial director of Lanao del Norte, said several families from the towns of Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lala, Kolambogan, Baroy, and Kapatagan had evacuated to neighboring areas in Misamis Occidental.

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