GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – An explosion hurt at least five people in a resto-bar on Notre Dame Avenue in downtown Cotabato City on Sunday night, September 11.
Cotabato Mayor Bruce Matabalao, who rushed to the scene, said it was “a grenade-throwing incident.”
Crime scene investigators found an MK2 fragmentation grenade safety lever at the explosion site.
The explosion took place in the city which is part of the 1st District of Maguindanao where a plebiscite would take place in less than a week. The city is near Datu Odin Sinsuat town which would become the seat of power of Maguindanao del Norte if the “yes” votes win during the plebiscite.
Cotabato City residents, however, would not participate in the September 17 political exercise that would determine whether or not Maguindanao would be split into two provinces.
The city is the regional center of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Cotabato City Police Station 1 commander Captain Kenneth Rosales said the explosion happened at around 9 pm along Notre Dame Avenue in Barangay Rosary Heights 2.
Police said Cotabato residents Parson Matingkong Guiaplos, Omar Jamalodin, Sittie Amirkan, Noranifa Uy, and Mary Joyn Antolan, who sustained minor injuries, were taken to a state-run regional hospital in Cotabato City.
Rosales said investigators were still trying to establishing the circumstances surrounding the explosion, and if it was a planned attack.
But police said the victims were customers who were having intoxicating drinks when the incident took place.
Initial police investigation showed that the explosion happened after two bickering groups chanced on each other in the establishment.
“It looks like it was a result of a quarrel between two groups of intoxicated people,” said Rosales.
The explosion took place at a time when the police have set up more than 200 checkpoints and were enforcing a province-wide gun ban ordered by the Commission on Elections because of the September 17 plebiscite. – Rappler.com