Seven people were injured when an improvised bomb exploded in a busy shopping street in General Santos City.
Chief Superintendent Eliseo Rasco, regional director of police, confirmed that the blast occurred at 11.50am today (Sunday, September 16).
He described how it ripped through the facade of a drug store and nearby establishments, including a restaurant and pawnshop.
He said the seven victims were taken to the Saint Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.
They were identified as Marlon Orabia, 30; Jerry Guyos, 19; Joana Bless Alipio, three; Filipa Regidor, 64; Lally Jean Alipio, 34; John Lennon Calang, 22; and Claire Uozola, 24.
Witnesses said an unidentified person left a bag in front of the drug store just moments before the blast.
A worker at the store, who asked not to be named, said she saw a man in front of the establishment “like he was looking for something”.
She said she asked him if he needed something and was told that he was looking where to buy pork.
The witness, who was then with her father, said they waved the man off and proceeded to close the store to have their lunch.
Moments after settling down, she said they heard an explosion.
Cf. Supt. Rasco, who rushed to the scene, said initial investigation indicated that the blast was caused by an improvised bomb.
“This is an act of terrorism. The purpose of the perpetrators is to clearly terrorise the people,” he said.
He said they are looking at possible links to the August 28 and September 2 bomb attacks in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat, which killed five people and injured more than 40 others.
Both incidents were blamed by authorities to alleged terror cells of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
“But we can’t make any conclusion yet as we don’t have the evidences and our investigation is still ongoing,” he said.
The Malacañang has strongly condemned the explosion. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s explosion that hit General Santos City which left scores of people injured,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.
“This comes at an unfortunate time when the nation is reeling from the effects of [typhoon] Ompong.”
He added that the authorities were now conducting an investigation, and “vowed to bring the perpetrators of this brazen attack to justice”.
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