Chief Supt. German Doria, Region 12 police director, said it was the handiwork of terrorists. “The targets are innocent civilians. Whoever did this are terrorists,” he said.
The bombing occurred at the end of the two-day joint meeting of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at the East Asia Royal Hotel in this city with the presence of the International Monitoring Team.
Doria, speaking over a local radio station, said the bombing could have been perpetrated by people who are against the peace process.
Authorities identified the fatalities as Danny Sampelo, 8; Bregado Reynaldo, 12; Jeoffrey Mangco, 36; Merlyn Poras; and two still unidentified women.
Twenty-three victims were brought to St. Elizabeth Hospital, the medical facility nearest the bombing site, but nine of them who sustained slight injuries were released after being administered first aid.
The 14 in patient victims who sustained shrapnel wounds were identified as Harold Calinawan, Nasser Kanapias, Danilo Capainda, Rodaliza Mangaso, Bartolome Gallano, Salvador Alimpolos, Vilma Hanzon, Genaline Presas, Ricardo Villanueva, Sajid Mapandi, Justin Acob, Anastacio Besinan, Rodelio Agraman and Janica Mallare.
The nine who sustained slight injuries were Mapandi Amina, Roland Macaitan, Eduardo Lim, Permelo Abner, Rey Asuncion, Perfecto Gadiane, Analyn Gadiane, Arnold Reynoso and Mark Miguel.
The three other victims — Agnes Guerero, 4; Maria Gisuna, 24; and Irene Gisuna, 21, were brought to the Socsargen Hospital.
Mayor Pedro B Acharon Jr. condemned the bombing as he urged the people of GenSan to be more vigilant. “Our authorities are trying their best to secure our city. However, there are still criminals who could find ways to carry out their plans,” he said.
“We should not be scared. Let’s keep on moving on. Business as usual,” Acharon urged his constituents.
He mobilized the policemen and Task Force GenSan to secure the area. Police investigators were immediately deployed to the blast site to gather fragments for investigation.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office immediately deployed its staff to assist the victims of their medical and other needs. Hermelo Latoja Jr., provincial welfare and development officer of nearby Sarangani province also arrived in the hospital to assist victims from his jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, Muslims living near the bomb site expressed fears of a mass arrest of Muslims. They expressed hope that authorities will be keen in their investigation so “fall guys” won’t be apprehended.
In the Kidapawan blast, the two injured persons were rushed to the Kidapawan Medical Specialist Center for treatment. Chief Insp. Leo Ajero identified them Mark Rivas, 14, of Suerte Subdivision in the city; and Wilfredo Lariba, 49, of San Vicente in Makilala North Cotabato.
Carlos Bautista, executive assistant for media affairs in the North Cotabato Governor’s Office told MindaNews Rivas is a high school student at the Central Mindanao College.
He said the police had “no theory” yet about the incident but witnesses said they saw a motorbike speeding away from the area shortly before the 8:45 p.m. blast.
Doria, speaking over DXND Radio for Peace after the bombings, admitted that the police had been receiving bomb threats in major cities in Mindanao, particularly those in the southwestern area.
But he declined to identify the possible suspects behind today’s twin bombings. (Gandhi Kinjiyo with reports from Williamor A. Magbanua and Malu C. Manar in Kidapawan City)