Blasts hit 2 Davao cinemas

The Philippine Star

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Explosions rocked two mall cinemas here Monday night, but no one was reported injured.

The first explosion occurred inside Cinema 5 at the Gaisano Mall at around 9:25 p.m., and the second at the SM City Cinema 1 after several minutes.

Five persons were brought to the San Pedro Hospital for treatment after they complained of ear ache due to the explosions.

Authorities found the explosive under seat number six on the ninth row of the cinema at Gaisano Mall.

The bomb that exploded at the SM City Cinema 1 was said to be in the orchestra section.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said authorities have yet to determine the type of improvised explosive device (IED) used and the possible perpetrators, but ruled out its connection to recent bombings in Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato cities.

Duterte said authorities could ascertain the group behind the explosions through the type of IED used.

“We have what we call a databank of types of bombs used in the past and that is where we base the so-called ‘signature’ of a corresponding group,” he said.

He said initial investigation showed the bombs were placed inside Diet Pepsi cans.

He said the two blasts were not meant to harm but more an attempt to threaten a particular target.

“However you see it, it is still an act of terrorism,” he said.

American interests

He said authorities are looking into possible threats against American interests.

Initial intelligence reports showed that terror groups are planning to attack businesses with American links.

“The military told me there is a warning to American businesses. Anything that represents American interests,” Duterte said.

Superintendent Ronald de la Rosa said he had warned the management of a mall here of a possible car bomb that may be planted in front of Starbucks.

A staff of Starbucks here confirmed that the US embassy had warned them of possible terrorist attacks.

‘MNLF not involved’

Duterte also cleared the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) of any involvement in the bombings.

Duterte, who said he talked to MNLF chair Nur Missuari yesterday morning, said the rebel leader assured him that they had no hand in the explosions.

“We are assessing so we cannot answer your questions. Let us wait until investigation is finished,” he said.

“At this point, we cannot go into a blame game because we do not know,” he added.

He also assured the public that authorities are taking the threat seriously and taking steps to meet the challenge.

Duterte ordered the management of malls to beef up their security, especially in cinemas. He also ordered the installation of closed-circuit television cameras in all cinemas in the city.

“They should install now HD CCTV. They must invest; they must provide security for their moviegoers. They should also look into the contents of the bags and everything. If they don’t do that we will close them and (revoke) their permits on grounds of public safety,” he said.

Smell of gunpowder

Fashion designer Dodjie Batu, who was watching a movie when the explosion occurred, said things happened so fast all he remembered was the cold air that blew on his face and the smell of gunpowder.

Batu told The STAR he was alone when he took a seat at the upper balcony portion of Cinema 1 to watch the last full show of the movie Elysium. He said 10 people were watching the movie.

“They were trying to tell us that it was just faulty wiring and that there was nothing to worry about,” he said.

He said he initially suffered pain in his ears because of the loud explosion but nobody gave him and the other moviegoers medical assistance.

Batu said they were instead given movie passes in exchange for the inconvenience they suffered.

“It was like a ‘refund’ given to us before we were sent home. All the while, I thought we would be checked medically but no one checked us,” he said.

Police visibility

As this developed, the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office has increased police visibility in public places in the city.

Police regional director Chief Superintendent Catalino Rodriguez Jr. said they remain on full alert with instructions to intensify intelligence gathering.

Rodriguez said city and provincial police chiefs around Northern Mindanao were also directed to set up more checkpoints.

He said it was possible that there was laxity in security, noting that moviegoers should have their bags checked at the main mall entrance and at the cinema entrance. – With Gerry Lee Gorit











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