Blast staggers military-media convoy in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY, Feb. 4 (PNA)–A blast hit a convoy of military, local officials and media personnel around 2:00 p.m. Tuesday in Barangay Tuka, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, Army’s Sixth Infantry Division spokesman, said that nobody was hurt in the blast.

“The soldiers were there on a clearing operation for the planned return of evacuees brought about by recent atrocities between state forces and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) when the blast incident took place,” Hermoso said.

Freelance photojournalist Mark Navales who was with the convoy said they were on their way to the interiors of Mamasapano going to nearby Rajah Buayan town when a roadside bomb exploded next to a military Semba tank in front of them.

“Luckily, we (journalists) always maintained a safe distance from the military vehicles in front of us,” he said in a cellphone interview after the incident.

He identified several TV broadcast reporters who were with him as Ron Gagalac of ABS-CBN; Chino Gaston of GMA-7 and Rommel Lopez of TV-5.

Navales said all of them are safe as the convoy opted to back out from the area following the blast.

Only last week, a reporter and cameraman of TV-5, together with several soldiers and civilians, were injured after a bomb exploded near the road in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town of same province. (PNA)