TV5 crew, 10 others hurt in Maguindanao blast

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- Six soldiers and six civilians, including two journalists from TV5, were injured when an improvised bomb allegedly laid by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) exploded in Maguindanao on Saturday.

The explosion came as the military is continuing a law enforcement operation against the BIFF, which is allegedly behind the atrocities in Central Mindanao over the past months.

Colonel Dickson Hermoso, the Army's 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the explosion occurred around 7:33 a.m. at Lower Salbo village in Datu Piang town.

He said soldiers aboard two Simba armored personnel carrier vehicles were responding to a similar explosion in the area, involving another Simba vehicle, when the incident happened.

The attack resulted in the wounding of six soldiers, a reporter and a cameraman of the television network and four other civilians nearby.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) identified the TV5 crew as reporter Jeff Caparas and cameraman Adrian Bulatao. The duo were riding in a marked press vehicle, which was part of the convoy of military and civilian vehicles, NUJP said.

Caparas and Bulatao were reported to be in stable condition.

The NUJP said the newsmen, who both suffered shrapnel wounds, were later airlifted by a military helicopter to a hospital in Cotabato City after they were initially taken to the headquarters of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Sharif Aguak town for medical attention.

Hhermoso said no one was reported killed or injured in the first attack but the Simba suffered a flat tire.

"There was a follow on explosion when soldiers and EOD teams were investigating...The two Simba were out to recover the first one and the media was with them to cover the first incident but another explosion occured near them," he said.

Hermoso said initial investigation showed the twin explosions were perpetrated by the BIFF, which has lost 52 men in the military's ongoing law enforcement operations launched last Sunday.

"The bombs used bear the signature of the BIFF. They are hurt, we killed 52 of them and we seized some of their strongholds. That is why they are doing indiscriminate attacks," he said. (VR/Sunnex)

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