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MANILA, Philippines -- Investigators are gathering statements from at least 10 witnesses and analyzing footage from a closed circuit television camera (CCTV) to identify the perpetrators behind the twin explosions that injured three in Palawan last Thursday, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said.
At the same time, police spokesmen here in the capital could not confirm media reports that a 16-year-old girl has been arrested in relation to the crime. Some reports said the teenage girl is not a suspect, but a witness.
Robredo, in a statement, said investigators have taken statements from the owner and employees of the Entaula Beach Resort in El Nido, plus two Philippine Marines soldiers to identify the suspects in the El Nido explosion.
In the Puerto Princesa City explosion, Robredo said separate statements were also taken by police probers from three bus passengers, the bus helper, and the owner of a sack of rice and two sacks of charcoal where the bomb was placed. Two other possible witnesses may also surface to give their affidavits regarding the incident.
Robredo also directed PNP chief Nicanor Bartolome to conduct an in-depth probe, identify and capture the suspects and determine the motives in the almost simultaneous bombings in Palawan.
Chief Superintendent Artemio Hicban, Mimaropa regional police director, also organized Task Force Hunter led by the Palawan PNP provincial director and the Puerto Princesa City chief of police to investigate and resolve the twin bombings.
Based on initial findings, the bombs used in the two explosions were similar as both are cellular-phone triggered improvised explosive device. “Both explosive device used were similar, meant to ‘alarm than to harm.’ There were no shrapnels and other sharp objects used,” Robredo said.
Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn said the explosions were not a terrorist act but only due to "local conflict in the areas."
The first explosion occurred at about 5:20 p.m. Thursday near a bus station in Barangay San Jose, about four kilometers away from the Puerto Princesa city proper. Two persons were hurt in the explosion. The bomb was placed inside a sack of rice dumped near the bus station. An elderly woman who owns the sack of rice where the bomb was placed is now in police custody and is undergoing investigation.
At the Entaula Beach Resort in Barangay Masagana in El Nido, the bomb was placed inside a garbage bin in one of the tourist cottages. A woman working as a cook in one of the resort cottages was hurt.