2 killed, dozens wounded in bombing near Philippines mall

Police officers investigate at the site of an explosion outside a shopping mall in Cotabato City on the southern island of Mindanao

Police officers investigate at the site of an explosion outside a shopping mall in Cotabato City on the southern island of Mindanao

Suspected Muslim militants have detonated a bomb outside a busy mall in Cotabato City, killing at least two and wounding more than 30. Another bomb was discovered at the second floor at the baggage area of said mall later at around 2:240 PM but it was immediately and safely disrupted at 3:00PM by the responding EODT.

The bomb was allegedly planted on a motorcycle taxi parked outside the shopping mall in Cotabato City, where people were buying New Year gifts, according to the newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Of the 34 injured, three will have to undergo medical operations due to the severity of their condition; seven are still confined in hospitals but are already out of danger; while 24 others have been released.

"We are still conducting an investigation after the blast to identify the suspect and we are asking the public to stay at home for safety", Zafra said. "Some of their members were killed that's why we see this as part of their retaliation", Sobejana said.

The bomb blasted at the entrance to a shopping center in the city of Cotabato in the early afternoon.

Sobejana said the bomb had the signature of a "Daesh group", referring to local Islamist extremists who have declared allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group. The southern Philippines has been plagued for decades by a violent insurgency by Muslim separatists that has left thousands of people dead.

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The region has also suffered from banditry, bloody feuds between powerful clans and communist guerrilla activity.

In a Facebook post, Cotabato Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi called the blast an "act against humanity".

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the southern third of the country under martial law to deal with the Marawi siege, the worst security crisis he has faced since taking office in mid-2016.

Initial police reports said the explosion took place just outside the main entrance of the mall along Don Rufino Alonzo Street in this city.

On Dec. 12, the Philippine Congress approved a further extension of martial law in the southern Philippines until the end of 2019 to quell a continuing rebellion in the region.

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