At least two people were killed and 24 others injured in an explosion in front of a mall in the Philippines. The incident occurred today near the South Seas Mall in Cotabato in the south of the country, the authorities said. Shortly before New Year’s Eve, hundreds of people were in the shops on the way to shop for the festivities, police said.
A second bomb, which had not exploded, was discovered a little later on the same road, the military said. Among the injured were a four-year-old girl and at least three young people, the police said.
Act of Islamist rebels
According to initial investigations, these are homemade explosive devices. The first bomb is said to have been hidden among stalls when it exploded. „The second bomb was left behind, probably in a hurry,“ said Major General Cirilito Sobejana.
Islamist rebels are blamed for the bombing, Sobejana said. Shortly before a planned referendum, the situation in the region is tense: In January, the residents should decide on the creation of the new autonomous Muslim region Bangsamoro in the south of the island state.
Active militant groups
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had been fighting for an independent Islamic state since the late 1970s. Thousands of people died in the conflict. After 17 years of negotiations, the MILF government and rebels closed peace in March 2014.
However, other militant groups are also active in the region. In July, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law to create the new autonomous region, as agreed in the peace agreement, to which the inhabitants still have to approve.