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PNP, Army put up check points following grenade attacks in North Cotabato town

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, March 10 (PNA) - Police and military authorities have put up road blocks and choke points along major thoroughfares in Pikit, North Cotabato following the series of bomb and grenade attacks.

While no one was hurt in the latest incident that happened on February 9, Senior Insp. Elias Dandan, Pikit police chief, said more police are visibly deployed along residential areas and public places like markets and town centers.

Unidentified men tossed a hand grenade in front of a Mosque in Barangay POblacion at about 11:30 p.m. The blast caused fear among the residents nearby.

In February, a fragmentation grenade was also lobbed at the town's commercial establishments in what police believed was carried out by extortion groups.

The owner of the establishment had confirmed having received, but ignored a letter from the Al-Khobar extortion gang demanding monthly “protection money” prior to the bombing.

Dandan said investigators and Army intelligence operatives operating in Pikit are certain the latest grenade attack at the market and at the Mosque were the handiwork of the same extortion gang.

Composed of former Moro rebels, the Al-Khobar has claimed responsibility for the spate of deadly bombings of buses, commercial establishments and public terminals in North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat in recent months.

The town police chief said one of two men riding a motorcycle in tandem hurled the grenade near the mosque and sped away.

Colonel Benjamen Hao, 7th Infantry Battalion commander based in Pikit, has augmented the undermanned town police force by establishing several choke points along portions of the highway linking Cotabato and Davao.

Common along the highway, especially during early evening rush hours, are robberies, hold-up, strafing of passenger vehicles, shooting and bombings.

Dandan said the local government is considering an imposition of curfew hours to prevent lawless elements from carrying their ill motives against innocent civilians.

RSV/NYP/EOF | Philippine News Agency | March 10,2012 | Article Link 

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