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2 dead, scores wounded in Cotabato City mall blast

/ 04:23 PM December 31, 2018
2 dead, scores wounded in Cotabato City mall blast

National Police investigators examine the site at the South Seas Mall following an explosion on New Year’s Eve in Cotabato city, southern Philippines Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana says the bomb went off Monday near the entrance of the mall as people made last-minute preparations ahead of New Year celebrations killing at least two people and wounding 32 others. (AP Photo/Rainier Canoso)

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.

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“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.

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“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

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TAGS: Cotabato, IS, Local news, mall blast, Philippine news update, provincial news, Regions
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