Leyte bombs similar to explosives in failed U.S. Embassy attack

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 30 2016 03:56 AM

Two improvised explosive devices (IED) recovered by authorities at a blast site in Leyte resemble those recently retrieved in the failed bombing attempt at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

"Mostly talaga, [sa] Mindanao [natatagpuan ang mga ganitong bomba]. Mayroon din last nakuha sa Metro Manila, doon sa U.S. Embassy at saka doon sa Bulacan," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team leader Senior Police Officer 4 Fortunato Colibao Jr.

However, this does not mean that the attacks were related, as authorities are still investigating the bombing that rocked the Hilongos town fiesta, and hurt at least 34 people on Wednesday night.

According to the EOD, one bomb found at the scene was made out of a 60-mm mortar cartridge, which fragmented when it blew up, while the second was crafted from an 81-mm mortar cartridge. Found 63 feet away from the first device, it was still intact when found by the EOD team.

Also retrieved were the fragments of a cellphone which authorities surmise was used as a triggering device.

The second bomb seemed to have malfunctioned, with the detonator only partially burnt, Colibao said.

Colibao also said this is the first time they recovered such powerful explosives in Leyte and Samar, as local attacks were usually done using landmines or grenades, not mortars.

“Talagang first time dito sa Region 8 itong IED na ito,” he said.

The police crime laboratory will subject the items recovered at the blast site to scientific analysis.

“Ine-examine ngayon ng examiner namin gaya ng forensic chemist at saka iyong sa fingerprint, kung may ma-recover na fingerprints doon sa mga plastic or cellophane,” said Region 8 crime laboratory officer-in-charge Chief Inspector Edwin Zata.

They will also attempt to trace the cellphone number used in the detonator.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News on Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that the incident was drug-related, and the New People’s Army (NPA) had nothing to do with it.

The Armed Forces, meanwhile, said the Maute terrorist group was behind the Leyte blast. 

Palace spokesperson Ernesto Abella also earlier denied that the blast, along with a separate attack in North Cotabato, was part of an attempt to set the stage for Duterte to declare martial law.

"At this stage, there are no indications regarding that matter. These are all being considered. For example, the situation in Hilongos, Leyte… these are not areas that are really subject to threats like bombings. That's exactly why it's all under investigation right now. But these are not indicators that the context is being set up for let's say declaration of martial law, for example. No,” Abella said. --with reports from Melanie Bingco, ABS-CBN News