MANILA -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) has ordered the creation of a special investigation task group to probe the mall blast in Cotabato City, which left two persons dead and 26 others wounded on New Year's Eve.
"I have immediately directed the creation of a Special Investigation Task Group to get into the bottom of this incident. We appeal to the public to remain calm but watchful and to immediately report to authorities (PRO12 Hotline Numbers: 09219898174; 09266500628) any information that may lead us to the suspects and help us crack this case," PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said in a statement late Monday.
Albayalde strongly condemned the criminals behind the explosion that caused harm and put in danger the lives of innocent civilians, and disrupted the Cotabato residents preparation to greet the New Year.
"The Philippine National Police strongly condemns these despicable acts of violence perpetrated by unknown elements in Cotabato City. We sincerely express our deep sympathy and offer our fervent prayers to the families of those killed and injured even as we vow to mobilize all available resources in order to quickly bring to the bars of justice those responsible for these cowardly attacks against innocent civilians," said Albayalde.
Based on reports, a loud explosion occurred particularly in front of South Seas Mall located on Don Rufino Alonzo Avenue, Poblacion 5, Cotabato City at around 1:59 p.m..
Cotabato City Police Director, Senior Supt. Rolly Octavio, ordered the police personnel nearby to cordon off the area, secure the people, flash an alarm to all concerned units and evacuate all the casualties to different hospitals.
The Cotabato City Provincial Office-Explosive Ordnance Division arrived and conducted post-blast investigation at the crime scene, which resulted in the recovery of white plastic gallon container with enhancement (MOL 1 kilo of one-inch concrete nails) and possible explosive charge (low explosive black powder).
Another improvised explosive device (IED) was also found at around 2:40 p.m. on Monday particularly at the baggage counter on the second floor of the mall, which was successfully disrupted at around 2:50 p.m..
Authorities also recovered half-inch nails, metal ball bearings as enhancement, disintegrated 9-volt batteries, disintegrated slide switch, disintegrated improvised blasting cap and leg wires.
After conducting post blast investigation, the EOD declared the area clear at around 5:28 p.m. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency