Two people were killed and dozens wounded in the Philippines on Monday when a bomb believed to be detonated remotely by pro-ISIS militants blew up near a shopping mall, according to reports.
The crude device exploded near the entrance of the South Seas mall in the southern city of Cotabato as people made last-minute preparations for New Year’s Eve festivities, army Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said.
Security forces who swept the mall discovered another suspected bomb and destroyed it, police Chief Inspector Rowell Zafra said.
At least 32 people were wounded by the bomb, which bore a “Daesh-inspired signature,” Sobejana said, referring to Islamic State by another name.
Sobejana said he suspected the attack was retaliation for the killing by government forces of seven members of a small militant group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Islamist extremists operate in the south of the largely Christian country and some are known to have links with groups abroad, including al Qaeda and ISIS.
The improvised explosive device used — which was packed with concrete nails and metal fragments — was left under a table lined near the mall’s entrance where vendors displayed fireworks for sale, according to the Philippine Star.
Kalim Sumdad, a passer-by, said: “We saw many of those near the spot where the IED exploded running away, blood oozing from their bodies.”
Cotabato residents are no strangers to IED attacks, having witnessed more than a dozen in the past decade, all blamed on the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which operates much like ISIS, the news outlet reported.
The southern part of the country has been rocked for decades by violent Muslim separatist insurgent groups. More than 100,000 people have lost their lives in the rebellion, according to the government.
With Post wires
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