UPDATED: At least 15 hurt in Kabacan blast; Governor offers P100K reward money

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews /16 Nov) — The governor of North Cotabato has offered a PhP 100,000 reward to anyone who could provide vital information behind Sunday’s blast in Kabacan town that injured at least 15 others, majority of them reportedly students from the state-run University of Southern Mindanao.

“It is downright disappointing to see innocent lives affected by this cowardly act. This is insane. As your Governor, I am hurt and angry”, Emmylou Talino-Mendoza said.

One student was reported to have died but this has yet to be confirmed.

The governor said she is saddened that  despite the efforts made by the provincial government to invest in development programs and peace and order, there are still those who want to sabotage the efforts.

“I ask every Cotabateno not to succumb to fear but stand our ground against those who bring conflict and criminality in our province. Christians, Muslims and Lumads should not allow animosity to divide Cotabato, I call everyone to be vigilant, join me in embracing peace as we demand justice (for) the victims of this senseless adventurism”, Mendoza said.

During the crisis situation earlier, the provincial government sent rescue units and ambulances and even called all doctors including those off duty, to report to the hospitals and assist in attending to the injured.

Earlier, reports reaching the 6th Infantry Division said at least 15 persons were wounded when an improvised explosive device went off in front of a public elementary school=at 6:45 p.m. Sunday in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, said reports reaching him indicate “an IED exploded at Pilot Central Elementary School” at the poblacion in Kabacan while “another suspected IED was planted / placed near the overpass adjacent to the incident area” but was “successfully disrupted” by responding troops.

Initial reports said four unidentified civilians were injured and were immediately brought to the Kabacan Medical Specialist for treatment.

The report reaching Hermoso’s office listed 15 injured: Samra Sembaga, Hartzel Bragat, Tonton Kusain, Monique Mantawil, Flo Rohana , Gerlie Royles, Rowena Nufies, Albert Palakpak, Ritchie Baguio, Queen Mary  Alimuhanid, Mohamid Masukat, Ibrahim Bantulan, Arvie Estrella and two still unidentified persons.

Heromoso said that aside from the exploded IED, there were also two suspected  IEDs found in the scene of incident.

The first suspected ID was disrupted by the 34th Explosives and Ordnance Team Bravo at 7:55 p.m and the second at 8:20 p.m. (Ferdindand B. Cabrera / MindaNews)