2 dead, scores wounded in Cotabato City mall blast
COTABATO CITY — Suspected militants linked to Islamic State detonated a homemade bomb outside a shopping mall in the southern city of Cotabato on Monday, leaving two dead and about 32 civilians wounded, days before the holding of plebiscite for a law that will give Muslims full control over an autonomous homeland.
Regional military spokesman Captain Arvin Encinas told the INQUIRER that the blast around 2:00 p.m. occurred outside crowded South Seas Shopping Mall where people were busy buying for food in time for new year’s eve.
“We are still investigating the group behind the blast as well the explosive they use,” Encinas said.
The head of police in the city, Senior Superintendent Molly Octavio, confirmed the explosion that left two civilians killed and about 32 others injured.
“We have a terror threat report before the blast. Right now, we have witnesses and hopefully we can get the suspects,” he said.
Another improvised bomb, containing black powder with unknown chemicals that emits foul odor, was recovered at the mall’s baggage counter at the second floor.
On January 21, residents in the south’s five provinces and two cities will hold plebiscite aimed at giving them full control under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) where they will be allowed to form an elected parliament and administration in Islamic-majority areas of southern Mindanao and nearby islands.
The law gives the people in the south control over many local government functions, including taxation and education, and it will allow Muslim Filipinos to incorporate Islamic law into their justice system. Both houses of the Philippine congress approved the BOL bill also called Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
As part of the autonomy deal, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is required to gradually disband its armed force, estimated by the military to be about 11,000 fighters. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.