Southern Philippines: Bomb Attack on Electric Grid Injures Powerline Workers, Soldiers

Froilan Gallardo
2021.09.28
Cagayan De Oro, Philippines
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Southern Philippines: Bomb Attack on Electric Grid Injures Powerline Workers, Soldiers Philippine soldiers walk past a mosque that was destroyed during a battle in 2017 between government forces and Muslim militants, who had laid siege then to the southern Philippine city of Marawi, May 23, 2021.
AFP

An explosion from a home-made bomb injured two utility workers and seven government soldiers at a state-owned electricity transmission tower in the southern Philippines on Tuesday, officials said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place in a remote area in Lanao del Sur province. Islamic militants and communist guerrillas, who are known to operate in the region, in the past have carried out similar attacks targeting the electrical grid.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), a private firm that operates the state-owned transmission facilities, said the early-morning attack occurred when the powerline workers were inspecting two high-voltage lines that had tripped.

“Two NGCP linemen and seven military escorts were injured and are now being treated at a hospital,” the company said in a statement.

Two air force helicopters were dispatched to evacuate the wounded people, said Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo, commanding general of the 103rd Infantry Brigade.

The transmission tower did not topple in the blast, he said, adding that the improvised explosive device was designed to cause casualties.

“Usually, the bomb is attached to the tower and exploded to topple it down. This (was) different. The bomb was planted to injure people,” he said.

Cuerpo said the NGCP linemen and their escorts had hiked for two days to reach the facility in a mountainous area near the remote town of Buadiposo-Buntong.

“It was a regular checkup of the tower, and the two linemen were accompanied by the soldiers for their security,” Cuerpo said.

Initial military reports indicated that the people who planted the explosive left the pressure-activated landmine at the base of the transmission tower, and it may have detonated when the inspectors stepped on it, Cuerpo said.

The 138-KV transmission tower connects the electricity from the Agus 1 hydroelectric plant to a relay station that distributes it to the rest of the grid on Mindanao Island.

“NGCP is fully cooperating with the local government unit and law enforcement agencies conducting the investigation,” the service company said.

“NGCP continues its appeal to the local and national government, local community leaders, and the public, to help identify the perpetrators, and to negotiate with uncooperative landowners, to prevent longer power interruptions,” it said.

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