The first bomb exploded at 4:15 a.m. under the spiral staircase of the two-story cathedral, while the second bomb exploded 15 minutes later in the parking area of Maybank.
According to the church guard on duty, men riding a motorcycle entered the church vicinity around 4 a.m.. They apparently wanted to go inside the second floor of the church, which was the main mass area. But the gates to the second floor were still closed as the first mass starts at 5 a.m. The guard grew suspicious, but the men fled and left a bucket under the concrete spiral staircase instead, which exploded a
few minutes after. It is believed that the same perpetrators also arranged for the second explosion along Veterans Ave. in front of Maybank.
Supt. Jonathan Perez, Zamboanga City police chief, disclosed that the two bombs were improvised devices — the first a time-triggered bomb from the ammunition of an 81-mm mortar, and the second, from a 60mm mortar ammunition triggered by a cellular phone.
"Let us stay calm and not panic. Let us be vigilant and not give in to what the perpetrators want, which is for us to cow in fear. We will not be terrorized," said Mayor Celso Lobregat during a press conference at the city hall.
The city is hosting to the ongoing Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) national games and the annual pharmaceutical convention. With more than 5,000 guests and delegates, the city has gained the image as one of the south's safest cities despite previous bombing incidents in 2005.
Lobregat urged the business sector not to close shop and carry on with usual business to avoid alarming the locals.
Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valle said the cathedral will resume with its normal activities, stressing that this is a very important approach to show the church's trust in the authorities to ensure the safety of its parishioners.
Previously, travel advisories for Zamboanga City were released by the United States and Australian embassies to its nationals based on intelligence reports of possible kidnapping and attack incidents in the city.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, and local authorities have yet to ascertain the identity of perpetrators and the intention of the bombings. (Angel Tiamson-Saceda / MindaNews)