DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The Roxas Night Market is the usual place in this city where people from all walks of life gather to dine, shop at bargain prices, and unwind.
Friday night teemed with more than the usual number of people because it was payday for most.
Shortly before 11 pm on September 2, the festive atmosphere and the laughter were drowned by shouts and cries. An explosion had just occurred.
Witnesses said they heard a loud bang and saw smoke from the site of the explosion, a massage area in the market. Ambulances rushed to the scene, carrying the injured on stretchers.
An improvised explosive device caused the explosion, Presidential Spokesman Martin Andanar said, adding that drug traffickers opposed to Duterte’s war on crime or Islamic militants may have been responsible.
The casualty count was at 14 early Saturday morning.
Over 60 were injured by the blast and were being treated in different hospitals, including a pregnant woman who remained under intensive care. Officials of the Southern Philippines Medical Center said 16 victims were in critical condition. Pieces of shrapnel were found on the victims, they said.
Many of the casualties were reportedly attendants and customers of the massage parlor near the night market.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio assured the families of the victims that the city government would help them in hospitalization, burial, funeral, and day-to-day expenses.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared a “state of lawlessness” in the country after the deadly blast.
The declaration is meant to ensure “coordinated efforts” between the police and the military in the government’s fight against terrorism and illegal drugs.
Duterte said there would be greater presence of soldiers all over the country and more checkpoints. He, however, added he would not be imposing any nationwide curfew yet.
“These are extraordinary times….There is a crisis in this country involving drugs, extrajudicial killings, and there seems to be an environment of lawlessness, lawless violence,” the President said. – Rappler.com