Cotabato blast kills 8, hurts 40

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

DAVAO CITY (Updated) -- The number of fatalities in the explosion that rocked Cotabato City on Monday rose to eight, while 40 people were wounded.

The explosion happened amid assurance by the Armed Forces of the Philippines that there is no global terrorism threat in the country and while the predominantly Muslim city is celebrating the holy month of Ramadhan.

The blast ripped through the Sinsuat Avenue right at the center of Cotabato City around 4:30 p.m. Monday. The explosion damaged seven vehicles and caused fire in nearby establishments, including a funeral parlor.

The fire also damaged power and telephone cables, causing power outages in nearby communities, police said.

Cotabato blast
A body lies beside burnt vehicles after a powerful bomb exploded in Cotabato City on Monday (August 5, 2013). (AP)

Troops and police closed off the area along Sinsuat Avenue as firefighters and ambulances arrived at the chaotic scene, where witnesses saw at least four people bloodied on the pavement.

Authorities confirmed that the bomb was placed inside a multicab that was parked in front of Villa Funeral Homes.

Some of the fatalities were identified as Major Abubakar Mangelen, SPO4 Mama Manambuay, Sangkala Satul, a certain Samsudin, and Usop.

Among the wounded were Adam Haroun, Allan Carugna, Eduardo Malicdem, Ezekiel Aimeroda, Lucas Hamza, Laiza Manguda, Emelie Lu, Harris Unto, Datupeges Mampen, Erlinda Dicaing, Alsaima Ulama, Salipudin Sindatok, Ritchie John Besanes, Edison Antolin, Ivy John Olen, Anajane Esmael, Guiamla Ali, Norhaya Abas, John Anthony Badrudin, Jowadi Salik, Nelsie Lasap, Edwardo Melgar, Omar Ali, Abubakar Mangelen, Ruby Buhat, and Ivy Libradilla.

The injured victims were rushed to the Cotabato City Regional Hospital.

Police reports said the bomb went off just in time the convoy of Cotabato City Mayor Guiapal Guiani Jr. was passing by.

Bomb shrapnels damaged the tires and windshield of the mayor’s car. However, the car is bullet-proof and the mayor was not inside it.

The car was used, instead, by the mayor’s eldest sister, City Administrator Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, for her assessment of the flood victims who sought temporary shelter in at least six evacuation centers in the city.

Guiani-Sayadi was not hurt but one of her police bodyguards in a security van was killed, officials said.

Balquin said they were looking at the possibility the attack could have targeted Guiani-Sayadi. He said the city administrator "had been receiving threats for the past few days."

National police chief Alan Purisima ordered regional and provincial police offices in Mindanao to step up intelligence and security, particularly for soft targets such as commercial areas and other places where people converge, said police spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac.

Cotabato City explosion
COTABATO. Police and military personnel inspect a burnt vehicle after a powerful bomb exploded in Cotabato city on Monday (August 5, 2013). (AP)

In Davao City, alert status has been heightened in light of the Cotabato bombing and the Cagayan de Oro blast last July 26.

Davao City Police Office Director Ronald dela Rosa made rounds in the downtown area and inspected malls and parks and establishments frequented by the public.

Dela Rosa said they have long implemented tight security measures in Davao City after the bombing in Cagayan de Oro that killed eight people and wounded 26 others. The security is also in preparation for the upcoming Kadayawan Festival here in Davao City this month.

Task Force Davao commander Colonel Casiano Monilla, meanwhile, urged the public to be vigilant and cooperate with the authorities.

Authorities in Davao maintained that despite the two bombings in Central and Northern Mindanao, the Davao Region remains peaceful and free from any threat.

In nearby Soccsksargen, police authorities also raised the security alert, particularly in General Santos City and neighboring areas.

Senior Superintendent Froilan Quidilla, city police director, said they have deployed additional police personnel in various strategic areas in General Santos to avert possible spillover or similar attacks in the area.

He said they specifically intensified their security operations in crowded areas such as shopping malls, public and private transport terminals, public markets, the city airport, Makar port, city hall complex and other public places.

Mobile police teams have been assigned in parts of the city’s downtown area and other communities within the 26 barangays, he said.

“We have increased our deployment at our check points and choke points, especially those situated at the entry and exit points of the city,” he added. (With Malu Cadelina Manar/AP/PNA/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

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