2 Zambo blast suspects eyed

Cops looking at factional strife; Palace eases fears

Zamboanga City police have identified two persons of interest in the grenade attack on the Kamardikaan mosque that killed two Tabligh missionaries and wounded four others on Wednesday.

The Palace, meanwhile, allayed fears that the attack on the mosque and the bombing of a Catholic church three days before would be used as a pretext to expand martial law, which is in effect in Mindanao.

“There is no necessity for any expansion of martial law, as the President has repeatedly declared,” said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, who added that there has been no spillover of violence to other parts of the country.

Three days after the Jan. 27 Jolo Cathedral bombing that left 21 people dead and 112 others wounded, a grenade hurled by unidentified men exploded inside the Kamardikaan mosque, killing two transient missionaries and wounding four of their companions early Wednesday.

READ: ISIS owns up to Jolo blasts

In a TV interview, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said the men who attacked the mosque had shot out the light from the nearby lamp post before throwing the grenade.

He added that one possible motive for the attack was an internal conflict among religious factions in Basilan.

Like Panelo, Albayalde said he doubted if martial law would be expanded to cover the rest of the country, noting that “there is no threat outside Mindanao.”

In President Rodrigo Duterte’s bailiwick of Davao City, the military and local government units will enforce a “no backpack” police for churchgoers, to prevent terrorists from sneaking explosives into places of worship.

The policy is in line with a measure suggested by Archbishop Romulo Valles in the wake of the bomb attack in Jolo.

“We appreciate the advisory and directive of the Catholic Church and Davao City as it strengthens the implementation of martial law in Davao City,” said Eastern Mindanao Command chief Maj. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. “It provides our implementing units additional legal basis and authority in preventing terrorism, and ensuring the safety and well being of our people. We want to assure everyone that our soldiers assisting the police will be prudent in the conduct of implementation of the policy.”

Topics: Kamardikaan mosque , Salvador Panelo , Jolo Cathedral , Philippine National Police , Oscar Albayalde
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