JI eyed in Batasan blast

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — POLICE are eyeing Jemaah Islamiyah militants as suspects in the deadly Batasan blast Tuesday as it reported that nails were used as shrapnel of the bomb that killed four people, including a congressman, and wounded 11 others.

In a press conference in Camp Crame, police officials said several nails were recovered by investigators at south wing entrance of the House of Representatives building, where the bomb went off.

In past deadly bombings, particularly in Kidapawan City last May, bombers also used nails as shrapnel for an improvised explosive device (IED).

Police had said that using nails as shrapnel for IEDs is a signature of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror group. Police had said that nails are used to inflict more damage or result to more casualties.

Director General Avelino Razon Jr., Philippine National Police chief, said they have yet to determine if the deadly blast at the Batasan complex was carried out by terrorists.

Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, said a cellular phone has been found in the blast site. This was attached to the improvised explosive device, which was planted on a motorcycle parked near the south wing entrance of the building.

“We already found parts of the bomb and it was detonated by a cellphone,” Barias said.

Senior Superintendent Magtanggol Gatdula, Quezon City police director, said the motorcycle is a Honda, which had tampered engine and chassis numbers.

Gatdula, however, said members of the police’s scene of the crime operations who processed the blast site recovered the Honda motorcycle’s body frame and saw a bar code.

The bar code was still being verified by police investigators.

Barias said the police have subjected to questioning a House cameraman who owns one of the two wrecked motorcycles that were most likely used in the bombing.

The police official, however, clarified that cameraman Cesar Padlan, is not a suspect. He said Padlan voluntarily told them that he owns one of the recovered motorcycles.

“He is very cooperative,” the police official said.

Barias said the police have yet to determine if the main component of the improvised explosive device attached to the motorcycle was TNT (trinitrotoluene) or C4 (Component 4). The latter is exclusively accessible to the military in the Philippines.

The two motorcycles were taken by investigators for forensic investigation hours after the blast at the congressional complex. The blast took place around 8:15 p.m.

Police had said they are investigating the possibility that the blast was intended for Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar, who died of open fractures in the forehead and jaw.