Abu Sayyaf foe escapes bomb attack

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A bomb attack outside the provincial capitol at 1:30 p.m. yesterday left unscathed Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan but injured five of his security escorts, police said.

A separate Army report said Mayor Hatta Berto of Pandami was also hurt.

“The governor was unhurt in the incident,” said Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Police Regional Office director Chief Supt. Bensali Jabarani.

Jabarani said the wounded include three policemen and two Army soldiers securing the top Sulu official. The injured escorts, whose names were not immediately released, were taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Jabarani said they were looking into reports that an explosive-laden motorcycle was used in the attack by suspects who detonated the bomb by remote control about 70 meters away from the Sulu provincial capitol.

However, he said bomb disposal experts are also looking at the possibility that the bomb was thrown at one of the governor’s service vehicles by unidentified suspects who escaped on board a motorcycle.

In a radio interview, Tan said they were on their way to his office when the bomb went off. Shrapnel slightly damaged his vehicle.

Jabarani said the motive and identities of the suspects as well as the type of bomb used are still being established by Sulu police investigators.

Tan, a staunch ally of President Macapagal-Arroyo, earlier declared a massive campaign against the Abu Sayyaf shortly after the extremists kidnapped three International Committee of the Red Cross workers last January 15. The bandits are still holding on to sick Italian hostage Eugenio Vagni.