Cotabato City blast kills 6
MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) — A powerful bomb exploded at the center of Cotabato City on Monday, August 5, killing at least 6 and injuring 26, authorities said.
Lt Col Custodio Parcon of the Armed Forces Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 said a cop was among the fatalities. The Marine Battalion was deployed to assist the police in investigating the explosion. EOD and K9 units were deployed.
"Apparently a multicab was used as car bomb parked near Villa Funeral Home. Allegedly it went off after the vehicle of City Administrator Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi passed by," according to a separate report by the Office of Civil Defense in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The explosion occurred at Sinsuat Avenue in Cotabato City at around 4:30 p.m. All injured are receiving medical treatment at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center.
"We call on the people to stay calm and cooperate with government authorities for the prevention of similar incidents," said AFP public information chief Lt Col Ramon Zagala.
No group immediately claimed responsibility, and city police chief Senior Superintendent Rolen Balquin said the motive was still being investigated.
The late-afternoon blast damaged at least 4 vehicles and triggered a fire that engulfed a nearby mortuary and a tire repair shop. At least 26 others were wounded, including police officers in a vehicle that was passing through the area.
'Blast heard kilometers away'
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Mujiv Hataman, whose office is 800 metres (2,625 feet) away from the blast site, said the explosion rattled his windows and shattered a quiet afternoon just before Muslims were to end their Ramadan fast.
"That area has always been a busy street, full of traffic. There are a lot of establishments there and people come and go at all hours," he told Agence France Presse. "The blast was heard kilometres away. It was powerful."
Cotabato is a mixed Muslim-Catholic city on the main southern island of Mindanao, where Muslim insurgents have waged a decades old rebellion that has claimed 150,000 lives.
It was the second bombing to hit Mindanao in 10 days. A powerful blast at a restaurant packed with doctors and pharmaceutical salesmen left 8 people dead in Cagayan de Oro City on July 26. Cotabato City is about 250 km or at least 4 hours away from Cagayan De Oro City.
It came close to a month after the government signed a wealth-sharing deal with the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the proposed Bangsamoro political entity.
More than 300 persons were killed in bombing attacks in Mindanao over the last 12 years. — with Agence France Presse, Carmela Fonbuena, Angela Casauay/Rappler.com