Thursday Nov, 30 2023 02:52:03 AM

Cops eye Al-Khobar in NGCP tower bombings

Local News • 00:51 AM Mon Oct 12, 2015
Edwin O. Fernandez
Fallen NGCP tower in Pikit, North Cotabato. (Ferdinandh Cabrera)

PIKIT, North Cotabato -- Police named the Al-Khobar extortion group on Sunday as the persons responsible in bombing two transmission pylons of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Barangay Batulawan here Friday night.Senior Insp. Sindatu Karim, Pikit town police chief, said initial investigation showed members of the Al-Khobar gang planted about six improvised explosive devices at the foot of Steel Tower Nos. 44 and 45 in Barangay Batulawan, Pikit and set them off at 11:45 p.m.As the two towers fell, power was cut off in some towns of North Cotabato, the whole of Maguindanao and Cotabato City. Power was restored three hours later.Al-Khobar is a gang composed of former Moro rebels turned into banditry and preying on multinational firms and bus companies in Central Mindanao.The group has been blamed in previous bombings against NGCP power lines in Pikit, North Cotabato and in Pagalungan and Pagagawan towns in Maguindanao.The same group was believed behind bus bombings in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato in the past.Karim said the bombed towers were about 200 meters away from a militia detachment and 50 meters away from a major government irrigation project.Responding policemen, elements of the 7th Infantry Battalion and Task Force Pikit arrived at the blast site about 15 minutes later. The IEDs were planted within four feet of Tower 44 which toppled the steel structures while Tower 45 tilted on its side,” Karim said.Police and Army bomb experts said the suspects used 60mm and 81mm mortars in toppling the towers.Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said another unexploded IED was found hanging in Tower 45. It was safely defused by Army bomb experts.The NGCP-managed towers were part of the 138-KV line that connects power from Kibawe, Bukidnon stations to Kabacan—Simuay line.Previous attacks on NGCP power lines were blamed on outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) which also operate in Pikit.Friday night's attack was the fourth this year against NGCP towers in Pikit, North Cotabato and nearby Pagalungan in Maguindanao.On Jan. 13 and 18, lawless elements bombed Tower 26 and Tower 41 in Barangay Ginakit, Pagalungan, Maguindanao and Barangay Batulawan, Pikit, North Cotabato, respectively.Bambie Capulong, speaking for NGCP Southern Mindanao region, said efforts are underway to repair the damaged pylons which, she said, could last about a week or two to complete.

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