2 dead, nearly 30 wounded in bomb blast at Philippine mall
Bomb was similar to those used by local militants who have aligned with Daesh.
Suspected militants remotely detonated a bomb near the entrance of a mall in the southern Philippines on Monday as people did last-minute shopping ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations, killing at least two and wounding nearly 30, officials said.
The bomb went off near a baggage counter at the entrance of the South Seas mall in Cotabato city, wounding shoppers, vendors and commuters. Authorities recovered another unexploded bomb nearby as government forces imposed a security lockdown in the city, military and police officials said.
Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said by phone that an initial investigation showed the design of the bomb was similar to those used in the past by local militants who have pledged allegiance to Daesh.
Government forces launched an offensive against the militants belonging to a group called Daulah Islamiyah last week and at least seven of the militants died in the fighting, Sobejana said.
"This is a part of the retaliation, but the problem is they're victimizing innocent civilians," he told reporters.
Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., the deputy police director of Cotabato, said witnesses saw a man leave a box in a crowded area near the mall's entrance where vendors and shoppers were milling. The explosion shattered glass panels and scattered debris to the street fronting the mall.
Two of the roughly 30 people hit by the blast died while being brought to a hospital, Sobejana said.
Cotabato Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi condemned the bombing and called on residents to help fight terrorism.
"This is not just another terroristic act but an act against humanity. I cannot fathom how such evil exists in this time of merry making," she said.
"It is unimaginable how some people can start the new year with an act of cruelty but no matter how you threaten us, the people of Cotabato are resilient. ... We will stand up against terrorism," she told reporters.
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