MANILA – Manila police invited for questioning two men as they searched for clues in Saturday night’s two explosions in Quiapo that killed two and injured six people, including two police officers investigating the first blast.
More than 40 others – mostly relatives and Muslim residents of the building near where the blast happened at the corner of Norzagaray and Elizondo Streets – were also being questioned, according to NCRPO chief Oscar Albayalde.
This, as the Manila Police District (MPD) chief, Senior Supt. Napoleon Coronel, said Quiapo district remained in lockdown until the post-blast investigation is completed and while four men are being pursued. Part of the lockdown is the conduct of checkpoints and saturation drives.
The lockdown means all business establishments near the blast site remain closed until the EOD finishes clearing operations.
Coronel said initial investigation showed the explosion had a particular target and was not an act of terrorism.
The Islamic Center official who police said had received threats earlier is being questioned. It was for him the package, brought by a motorcycle-rising messenger, was reportedly meant. The caretaker of the building near the Islamic Center, reportedly had doubts about the package and brought it outside, but it exploded, killing him and the messenger.
Bodies still at scene 12 hours later
Meanwile, concern was rising among the residents about the long time it is taking authorities to retrieve the remains of the building caretaker – named as one Mohammad Bainga – who died in the explosion, along with the messenger who had brought the package where the bomb was concealed.
Residents wondered aloud why police had left the two bodies to remain at the scene of the blast, more than 12 hours after. Islamic tradition holds that the dead must be buried within 24 hours.
The Manila Police District’s Explosives and Ordnance Division completed its clearing operations past 4 a.m. Sunday in hopes of determining if there was another IED in the area.
The clearing operation and post-blast continued after 6 a.m.
The Scene of the Crime Operatives were rushing their work at press time in order to facilitate removal of the fatalities’ remains.
Meanwhile, the courier who brought the package has not been identified.
Clues from CCTV
CCTV from the area showed a motorcycle arriving at the scene, with a messenger delivering a package meant for one Atty. Nasser Abinal, president of the Imamate Islamic Center
Shortly after a man at the building took the package, it exploded.
Probers are confirming if the messenger was from Grab Bike, based on the jacket he was wearing and the Grab logo on his motorbike.
The first explosion happened past 5 pm. Then, at 8pm, as the MPD’s SOCO was conducting an investigation, another explosion took place, this time causing minor injuries to a member of the MPD’s EOD unit, Police Officer 2 Aldrin Resos, and Police Chief Insp. Elisa Arturo of the SOCO.
The second blast prompted the PNP to cordon off a huge part of the area, sealing off roads leading to the blast site.
The EOD also brought in a robot to the area to do post-blast investigation, but it turned up nothing during hours-long clearing operations, so the operation was stopped and resumed only at 6 a.m. Sunday.
VIEW ALSO VIDEO OF THE MORNING AFTER IN QUIAPO, BY NEWS5’S GARY DE LEON:
Photographs below by Avito Dalan, Philippine News Agency: