Suspected Muslim militants have detonated a bomb outside a busy mall in Cotabato City, killing at least two and wounding more than 30.
The bomb at the South Seas Mall on Don Rufino Alonzo Avenue wounded shoppers, vendors and commuters at about 2pm today (Monday, December 31).
It was apparently timed to coincide with a rush of shoppers stocking up for tonight’s New Year’s Eve festivities.
Authorities diffused another bomb on the second floor of the mall and government forces imposed a security lockdown in the city, military and police officials have said.
Major General Cirilito Sobejana said the bomb was similar to those previously used elsewhere in Maguindanao by terrorists who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
Government forces launched an offensive against the terror group Daulah Islamiyah last week and at least seven of its militants died in the fighting, Sobejana said.
“This is a part of the retaliation, but the problem is they’re victimising innocent civilians,” he added.
Superintendent Romeo Galgo, the city’s deputy police director, said witnesses saw a man leave a box in a crowded area outside the mall. The explosion shattered glass panels and scattered debris to the street fronting the mall.
Two of the more than 30 people caught up in the blast died on the way to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center. They have been identified as Jonathan Tasic Torrebiano and Meriam Kali Ulama.
‘Cotabato folk stronger than you think!’
Cotabato Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi condemned the bombing and called on residents to help fight terrorism.
“This is not just another terroristic act but an act against humanity. I cannot fathom how such evil exists in this time of merry making of our fellow Cotabateños,” she said.
“It is unimaginable how some people can start the new year with an act of cruelty but no matter how you threaten us, the people of Cotabato are resilient and we are stronger than how you think we are. We will stand up against terrorism.”
Routes into the city remained closed as of 4.30pm.
Among those injured was a four-year-old girl identified by police as Norlyn Biruar, Bai Sandra Ayunan, aged 16, Kutin Sedik, 65, Hamida Solaiman, 21, Joey Api, 31, Aida Dalandag, 58, Marissa Torres, 49, and Tarhata Biruar, 43, the mother of Norlyn Biruar.
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Posted by Brigada News Fm Cotabato City on Monday, December 31, 2018