AFP not discounting 'other groups' in Cotabato City blast

By Priam Nepomuceno

January 1, 2019, 9:17 am

MANILA -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not discounting the possibility that there are other "interest groups" that perpetrated the deadly blast in Cotabato City, which left two persons dead and 26 others wounded on New Year's Eve.

"While we all know that the terrorist BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) and its breakaway group Daulah Islamiyah are the ones with the wicked desire to sow terror and inflict harm to innocent civilians, we don't discount the possibility of other interest groups aligned with the same evil intentions to be involved," AFP chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said in message sent to reporters Monday.

The AFP strongly condemns the criminals behind the explosion that caused harm and put in danger the lives of innocent civilians and disrupted the Cotabato residents preparation to greet the New Year, he added.

Initial information from the 6th Infantry Division revealed that an unidentified individual allegedly dropped a wrapped box along Magallanes St. in front of the South Seas mall entrance, which exploded at around 1:59 p.m.

Explosive ordnance disposal teams and forensics operatives are now in the area to process the scene and identify what kind of explosive was used.

"The AFP on its part is continuously collaborating with the PNP (Philippine National Police) who are leading the investigation as we are also cooperating with the local government of Cotabato City in the overall security of the city," Madrigal added.

"Meanwhile, we urge all peace-loving citizens in Cotabato City to be very vigilant and report to the authorities any suspicious individuals or packages to avert a similar incident from happening. The people's cooperation will add strength to government forces designated to facilitate the security of our communities," he added. (PNA)