Cotabato blast toll rises to 8
(UPDATED) Local officials say a 'big fish connected to terrorists' is behind the blast

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – The number of fatalities from Monday’s blast, August 5, in this city has risen to 8, Police Region 12 Director PC/Supt Charles Calima confirmed Tuesday morning, August 6.

The fatalities were identified as:

  • Suyoph Jaji
  • Ahari Samsudin
  • Sungkala Satol
  • SPO4 Mama Manambuay
  • Jeddin Menak
  • Haris Unto
  • Nasrudin Guialel
  • Salahuddin Sindayo

Seventeen other victims, meanwhile, have been discharged from the Cotabato Regional Medical Center. Thirteen victims are still confined there.

The bomb exploded at the center of Cotabato City Monday afternoon, along Sinsuat Avenue. The late-afternoon blast damaged at least 4 vehicles and triggered a fire that engulfed a nearby mortuary and a tire repair shop. 

Local officials said they have suspects, including the alleged mastermind.

“We have already witnesses. They saw at least two to three people at the scene before the blast. They have given us the names as well the [identity of the] mastermind,” Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani told reporters. He did not elaborate.

“Yesterday’s incident was not the work of a small group but a big fish connected to terrorists,” he added.

He said the blast along Sinsuat Avenue was apparently intended for his sister, City Administrator Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, as the explosive device, planted in a vehicle, went off as she passed by it.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing.

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.

The Suara Bangsamoro, a cause-oriented Moro group based in Mindanao, condemned blast and called for a thorough investigation.

Amirah Ali Lidasan,the group’s spokesperson, said they were saddened that the killing of innocent civilians happened at a time when the Moro people are observing their fast in the month of Ramadan.

She said they were bothered by the bombing incidents following the warning issued by the US State Department on August 2 about possible terrorist threats from Al-Qaeda network against US interests in Middle East and North Africa.

READ: US embassy extends closures  

More than 300 people have been killed in bombing attacks in Mindanao over the last 12 years. – Ferdinandh Cabrera, with reports from Agence France-Presse/

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