Members of the Highway Patrol Group guard the scene of the explosion.
John Unson
2 dead in Cotabato mall blast
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - January 1, 2019 - 12:00am

COTABATO CITY , Philippines  —   Two persons were killed while 20 others were injured after a powerful explosion ripped through the exterior of a shopping mall here yesterday afternoon.

Supt. Rolly Octavio, director of the Cotabato City police, identified one of the fatalities as Jonathan Tasic Torribiano, of North Upi, Maguindanao.

Radio reports said another victim died while being treated in a hospital.

The improvised explosive device (IED) used in the attack was packed with concrete nails and jagged metal fragments.

The IED was left by a still unidentified person underneath one of the tables near the entrance of the Southseas Mall along Magallanes Street where ambulant vendors sell fireworks.

An unexpoded IED was found on the second floor of the mall that responding police and Army bomb experts detonated.

Elena Zombrio, a passerby, said the IED went off in the vendors’ section, scattering the merchandise in areas near the mall entrance.

“We saw many of those near the spot where the IED exploded running away, blood oozing from their bodies,” Kalim Sumdad said.

The city police and the Army-led anti-terrorist Task Force Kutawato immediately locked down all thoroughfares connecting the city to nearby towns in Maguindanao, while soldiers and policemen patrolled the streets here to search for more IEDs.

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said their intelligence units are now helping police investigate the incident.

Residents of Cotabato City are no strangers to deadly IED attacks, having witnessed more than a dozen in the past ten years, all blamed on the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which operates in the fashion of the Islamic State. With Emmanuel Tupas

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