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Quiapo blasts could be related to sectarian violence

Authorities to look deeper into the incidents

Gulf News

Manila: The twin blasts that rocked the capital’s Quiapo district and killed two people on Saturday could be related to sectarian violence, a peace activist said.

Amirah Lidasan of the Moro advocacy group Suara Bangsamoro said the twin explosions near the Golden Mosque in Quiapo’s Muslim quarter in Gunao Street and Norzagaray Street could just be symptoms of sectarian strife in the Philippines.

In the Saturday incident, a motorcycle mail parcel delivery man and a person close by were killed when a bomb, apparently part of the delivered item, exploded. The package was addressed to an imam, lawyer Nasser Abinal who also works as a Revenue District Officer of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in Manila’s Intramuros area, said.

Abinal was unhurt, but a similar detonation occurring two hours later in an area close to the first explosion, injured six people including two policemen and four Muslims.

Lidasan urged authorities to look deeper into the incidents as these could be a case of sectarian violence.

She said religion-based violence had been unheard of in predominantly Christian Philippines for many years; however, recently there has been a noticeable increase in such strife.

“One incident that was said to be sectarian related was that in Zamboanga City in 2013 and in 2015 and 2016,” she told Gulf News, noting that some of the incidents occurred inside or within the premises of academic institutions.

Last March 2016, lecturer Dr Aid Al Qarni and and Saudi Arabian religious diplomat Shaik Turki Assaeg were injured in a gun attack in Zamboanga City.

Al Qarni had just delivered a lecture at the Western Mindanao State University in a symposium organised by the Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula when the incident occurred.

Security men of the Royal Saudi Arabian Embassy and the local police killed one of the suspects who was armed a pistol.

“Authorities said that the incident in Quiapo is an isolated matter and that it is not related to terrorism, we just hope this is true,” she said.

The incident in Quiapo last Saturday took place after a pipe bomb exploded near a carnival several blocks away in Soler Street on April 28. The incident injured 14 people.

National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa and National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde said they believe that the Quiapo explosions were either the handiwork of Daesh or another terrorist group.

Before this, Dash had claimed credit for carrying out the April 28 explosion.

Manila Police Director, Chief Supt. Joel Coronel presented the April 28 bombing suspect, Abel Macaraya, in a press briefing on Monday.

A second and third suspect, a certain Ali Moro and Raymond Mendoza, remain at large.

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