KIDAPAWAN CITY -- Three persons, including a passerby, were injured when a fragmentation grenade exploded along Quezon Boulevard here, around 4:45 a.m. Friday, just a few hours after the New Year's revelry.

North Cotabato Provincial Police Director Norberto Batislaong identified the wounded as Roger Bonggay Occenid, 43; and Dumama Palandas Bagundang, 18, both residents of Lapu-Lapu St. and Jonard Adorador Dulmatico, 24, of Barangay Makalangot in Arakan, North Cotabato.

All victims were rushed to the Kidapawan Doctors Hospital.

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Inspector Benjamin Mauricio, chief of the anti-vice and investigation division of the Kidapawan City Police, said two of the victims identified as Occenia and Bagundang were members of a gang involved in a fight with another group while having a drinking spree in one of the barbecue stalls here.

The other victim was driving his motorcycle on his way home passing the street when the grenade went off.

Occenia was hit in his stomach; Bagundang and Dulmatico were hit on their lower extremities, according to the reports of Marlon Ceballos of the 505 Search and Rescue Group of Kidapawan City.

Three vehicles parked outside Kasapid Enterprises, Incorporated, a department store located along the highway, were also hit by bomb shrapnel. These included a black pickup, a silver gray Sangyong Muzzo pickup and a black multi-cab, all owned by the Pimentel family of the Kasapid Enterprises.

Mauricio said the grenade throwing incident was not, in a way, related to any previous explosions in North Cotabato.

"This was purely personal grudge in nature. Two groups were fighting over something. We're still finding out what it was all about," Mauricio said.

Mauricio's report was corroborated by a statement made by Rogelio Failma, security guard assigned at the Kasapid Enterprises. Failma told the media that he saw a group of males running after another group, most of them teenagers, and when they reached the store, somebody lobbed a grenade and it exploded.

Police investigation showed that Occenia's group has just left the barbecue stall after a drinking session when they noticed a group of males tailing them.

"When Occenia's group reached a store, the group that was tailing them had overtaken them. They had a heated exchange of words over flimsy or insubstantial matters. The group of Occenia chased the group who ran away. But in the process, one of the five persons threw a grenade, which exploded, and hit Occenia, Bagundang, and Dulmatico," Batislaong said.

Today's grenade explosion was the second to hit North Cotabato since Christmas Day.

On December 25, an improvised explosive device (IED) planted at the rear portion of a hauler truck owned by businessman Eddie Untalan and was parked along the highway in Carmen, North Cotabato, went off. Nobody was hurt during the explosion.

Senior Inspector Winston Seniel, chief of the Carmen Police, said a few days before the explosion, a group identified as Al Khobar was extorting some P1 million from Untalan.

Five days later, a roving village guard in Poblacion, also in Carmen, recovered an IED planted in one of the towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). The wirings of the bomb malfunctioned so it failed to explode, said Seniel.

Police also hinted extortion as behind the incident. (Malu C. Manar of Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)