MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Terrorist group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the deadly explosion at a night market in Davao City, a report said Saturday, September 3.
Radio station dzMM reported that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), through its spokesperson Abu Rami, owned up to the blast on Friday evening, September 2, at the Roxas Night Market in Davao City.
Abu Rami reportedly described the blast as a "call for unity" among Islamic guerrilla fighters called the mujahideen.
The Abu Sayyaf spokesperson also said this serves as a warning to the Philippine government led by President Rodrigo Duterte, former mayor of Davao City.
The Roxas Night Market explosion killed at least 14 people on Saturday, the dzMM report added.
The Davao City explosion has prompted Duterte to declare a state of lawlessness across the Philippines.
In a separate report by GMA News ahead of the ASG statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, "While nobody has come up to own the act we can only assume that this was perpetrated by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf that has suffered heavy casualties in Jolo in the past weeks."
"We have predicted this and has warned our troops accordingly but the enemy is also adept at using the democratic space granted by our constitution to move around freely and unimpeded to sow terror," Lorenzana added.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in an interview on dzMM that the Office of the President informed her through a text message that the attack on her city was "ASG retaliation."
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said in a media interview that police suspect the attack to be the Abu Sayyaf's "diversionary move."
This, he said, was "to ease up the pressure that they have been experiencing in Sulu" where government troops have been deployed following the President's order to "destroy" the group.
When asked, the PNP chief agreed that the Abu Sayyaf seemed to be taunting the Duterte administration through the attack.
"Yeah, ano pang ibig sabihin noon? Talagang hinahamon tayo (Yeah, what else could it mean? They're really daring challenging us.)"
Duterte earlier vowed to "destroy" the Abu Sayyaf after another hostage of the group had been beheaded.