One killed, 13 hurt in Cotabato blast

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/02 August) — A powerful bomb went off in a commercial area along Quezon Avenue  here past 2:00 p.m. today, killing a passerby and causing injuries to 13 others, among them a six-year-old girl.

The fatality was identified as Gemana Ali Karim, 53, a commercial photographer. He was rushed to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center but was declared dead-on-arrival.

Twelve of the 13 wounded victims were identified as Datu Ike Karudin Kabakalan, Nancy Laganon, Delio Danosniya, Cherry Danosniya, Roniey Agan, Nestor Luna, Anisa Pasandalan, Bryan Go, Guahida Caurak, Macapantom Maliga, Tessie Salapna and Guianina Tayuan.

Pasandalan and Go were undergoing operation at the Cotabato Medical Specialist Hospital.

Senior Supt. Roberto Badian, the city’s police director, said investigators are now validating statements by witnesses that two men left a bag supposedly containing a powerful improvised explosive device on the seat of a parked motorcycle and hurriedly left before the blast.

“We’re also not discounting the possibility that the IED could have also been placed underneath the seat of the motorcycle which was deliberately parked there and detonated through a device operated from a distance,” Badian said.

The IED exploded in front of the city’s biggest gunstore, the Cotabato Weapons and Tactics.

The blast shattered the glass panes of the gunstore and other commercial establishments nearby.

“Too powerful explosion, as if there was an earthquake, the ground shook and our crew staff panicked inside the kitchen”, according to William Salafrania, owner of Batchoy Restaurant.

Her wife Precy was wounded in the arm.

Badian said the injured girl, Anisa Pasandalan, is undergoing medication now at a hospital about three buildings away from the spot where the IED went off.

Some of the wounded were passengers of vehicles passing by.

“Let’s give our investigators enough time to wind up with their effort to determine the type of IED used in the attack, the identities of the culprits and their motive,” Badian said.

Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, who was among the first to respond and reach the scene, condemned the bombing, which marred the second day of the observance of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month marked by fasting and abstinence.

“This is a handiwork of people with satanic orientation. Whoever perpetrated this will surely go to hell,” Sema said.

City Administrator Cynthia-Guiani Sayadi said the city government has offered reward money to those who can pinpoint the culprits, and asked residents to be more vigilant.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The scene is less than a kilometer away from the entrance to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, where bombers exploded a powerful IED in July 2009, killing five persons and wounding around 30 others. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)