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Cops tag 3 persons of interest in bombing

DAVAO CITY—At least two women and a man are considered persons of interest in the Roxas night market bombing in Davao City, Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa said Saturday.

Dela Rosa said the three suspects were tagged by at least eight witnesses who were at the night market when it was rocked by an explosion around 11 p.m. Friday that was caused by an improvised explosive device with mortar fragments.

“The [two] girls don’t have an artist sketch as of the moment, but we already have the artist sketch of the male,” Dela Rosa said.

The PNP chief said the bombing may have involved police character Abdul Manap Mentang, who is believed to have been involved in the 2003 bombings at the Sasa Wharf and Davao International Airport. Mentang has a P2.3 million bounty for his capture.

In a radio interview, Rhea Rolida, a therapist who survived the blast, said she was only a few meters away from the blast site and her uncle Brando Goc-ong saw two women hurriedly leaving their tent before the bomb went off.

First terror attack. Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa explains initial findings to journalists at a briefing in Camp Crame. Manny Palmero
“My uncle told me he saw two women going inside their tent and placing a bag on top of a chair and after three minutes the loud explosion occurred,” Rolida said.

Aside from her uncle, Rolida said her fellow therapists also noticed the two women arriving, placing bags on the chair and hurriedly leaving.

“We did not mind them because we were busy massaging [customers] at the time. But after three minutes or so, the explosion occurred. The explosion took place exactly where the bag was placed,” Rolida said.

Rolida said her sister Ruth Merisido was killed in the explosion.

“My sister was seated near the chair where the bag was placed and exploded,” Rolida said.

Among the dead were Danile Larida, Melanie Faith Larida, Jay Andremesin, Rogelio Cagantas, Mercy Basilisco, Cristelle Deconlongon, Reynaldo Salvador, Eufemia Bichocho, Christian Denver Reyes, Evelyn Sobrecary and two still unidentified victims.

The wounded are still recuperating at five medical facilities in Davao City.

Rolida said most of the dead victims, including her sister, sustained deep shrapnel wounds in the chest, face, head and others parts of their bodies.

When asked if she recognized the two women, Rolida said “they looked familiar to me” but lamented that there were no CCTV cameras installed around the explosion site.

“I was so lucky that I sustained no injuries because there was a man behind my sister. He was severely injured by shrapnel,” she said.

Rolida said that when the bomb went off, she and other therapists ran to nearby Ateneo University where they sought cover. After a few minutes, they went back to look for her injured sister but found her already dead.

“The explosion was so loud that it even affected her hearing,” Rolida said condemning the bomb attack. “We were there just to earn a living from massaging and they did this to us.”

Rolida was also puzzled how the bombers were able to sneak into the night market venue although the security was strictly enforced by policemen during the occasion.

She also noticed the slowness in the arrival of medical responders to the blast site: “it took about seven minutes for them to arrive.”

Topics: PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa , first terror attack , 3 persons of interest in bombing , davao bombing , davao city
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