MARANTAO, Lanao del Sur – The military here said an attempt to throw an improvised explosive device near soldiers guarding polling precincts in an elementary school here failed when the bomber hit the windshield instead, the IED bouncing back inside and exploded, injuring the bomber.
The explosion took place around 5 pm along the highway outside Daana-Ingud Bacong Elementary School, according to Lt. Col. Jason Jumawan, commanding officer of the Army’s 82nd Infantry Battalion.
He said they found “two or three” more IEDs inside the van, which a police explosive ordnance division detonated by 6:15 pm, causing panic among the hundreds of curious onlookers awaiting for more details of the incident.
“Our initial investigation shows that they intended to conduct intimidation or bombing here in the area,” Jumawan said.
The military arrested three suspects – the driver of the white Toyota van, the injured bomber, and yet another suspect that residents said just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A fourth suspect ran away, Jumawan said.
Jumawan said the injured was rushed to the Amai Pakpak Hospital in Marawi City for treatment.
He said the suspects’ van was right behind 14 soldiers when the explosion happened. The soldiers then approached the van and found the injured bomber and more IEDs.
At the scene by 5:45 pm, a police K-9 unit was bringing in dogs towards the white Toyota van (plate number A3 L057) while two handcuffed suspects were instructed to lie down on the paved highway. The dogs likewise sniffed vehicles parked nearby.
Marantao resident Migs Mama said he was inside the school’s fence about 15 meters away from the van when he heard a thud similar to the sound of a vehicle door being closed. “Then I saw smoke coming out of the van when the soldiers opened it,” he added.
Vice Mayor Alahudin Maruhom said he was monitoring the balloting in the precincts when he heard the commotion, “but I heard no explosion.”
One of the suspects arrested was his cousin Al-Musab Abanto, whom the vice mayor said was only taking video of the van when soldiers accosted him.
Abanto’s mother Johanifa said her son had nothing to do with the suspects. She said Al-Musab was in the area because when the explosion happened, he was in the headquarters of the reelectionist vice mayor. The headquarters was just across the street from the school.
Johanifa said his son works in Manila selling various items and came home only to help in his cousin’s campaign. (Bobby Timonera of Mindanews)