Members of the Highway Patrol Group guard the scene of the explosion.
John Unson
Police, military join forces for Cotabato City mall bombing probe
John Unson ( - January 2, 2019 - 2:26pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Police probers and Army intelligence agents will work together in the probe into a bombing at a mall in Cotabato City last Monday.

Chief Superintendent Eliseo Rasco of the Police Regional Office 12 said Wednesday that Special Investigation Task Group Southseas has been created to find the people responsible for the IED blast that killed two people and left 37 others injured.

Local police have yet to determine the exact motive for the bombing near the entrance of the Southseas Mall along Don Rufino Alonzo.

The special probe body, activated Tuesday, is comprised of officers from the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, from the Cotabato City police office and from PRO-12.

Plainclothes agents from the regional police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in nearby Parang town in Maguindanao are also helping with the investigation.

Rasco appealed to local communities to refrain from insinuating on Facebook that the bombing was meant to derail the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

"We have to give investigators enough time to identify who were behind that bombing that we condemn strongly," Rasco told reporters Wednesday.

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of 6th ID, said there is a possibility that a local Islamic State-inspired group could be responsible for the attack.

"Our intelligence units are helping the police look into the incident. We just have to patiently wait for the outcome of the investigation being initiated jointly by the police and the military," Sobejana said.

In a statement Tuesday, presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez, Jr. urged for sobriety in the aftermath of the bombing.

Galvez served as commander of 6th ID, covering the 37 barangays here and the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato, from 2015 to early 2017.

He said the bombing was an isolated case and must not be treated as something that could affect the preace process between the government and the MILF.

"Authorities are on top of the situation," he said.

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