ZAMBOANGA CITY – An explosion, caused by unspecified chemicals allegedly being sold illegally, ripped through the public market in Jolo, Sulu Saturday afternoon, killing at least four people and wounding three others, officials said.
Col. Antonio Supnet, commander of the 104th Army Brigade stationed in the Sulu capital, immediately ruled out terrorism as the cause of the explosion, which occurred at 3:20 p.m. and killed three people on the spot. The fourth fatality was declared dead on arrival at a hospital.
“We rule out terror in this incident; it’s plain negligence from store owners selling illegal and prohibited chemicals, such as ammonium nitrate,” Supnet told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview.
Those killed on the spot were identified as Ahmadul Akang, his wife Jurian and an unidentified Badjao customer. Four injured were rushed to a hospital, where one of them was declared dead on arrival.
Supnet said the Akang couple, under the guise of being cooking oil dealers, were illegally selling banned chemicals.
The military discovered 50 sacks of unspecified chemical substances at the back of the Akangs’ store.
Task Force Comet chief Maj. Gen. Reuben Rafael said the explosion occurred while Ahmadul Akang was trying to improvise blasting caps to be sold to fishermen using dynamite to catch fish.
He said the explosion damaged three nearby stalls.