A person was killed while at least 16 others were wounded after a bomb planted near an elementary school in Kabacan, North Cotabato exploded, on the night of Sunday, November 16.

Kabacan Blast November 16

Danilo Peralta, Provincial Police Chief Senior Supt. said the explosion occurred at an overpass at the front of Kabacan Pilot Elementary School at around 6:50 p.m.

At least two other improvised explosive devices (IED) were laterfound in the area.

One of them was discovered at around 7:55 p.m. which was placed inside a thermos located a few meters away from the site and detonated by responding security forces.

At 8:15 p.m., government forces discovered and successfully defused another suspected IED near the blast site.

The victims were rushed to the hospital for proper medical attention. One of them identified was Monique Mantawil, Development Communications student at the University of Southern Mindanao in the town proper of Kabacan.

Montawil, who suffered shrapnel wounds in different parts of her body, died while being rushed to a hospital in Davao City.

Moreover, the injured victims were identified as Giezel Mae Butil, Samra Sembaga, Hartzel Bragat, Tonton Kusain, Flo Rohana, Girlie Royless, Rowena Nufies, Albert Palakpak, Ritchie Baguio, Queen Mary Alimuhanid, Muhamed Masukat, Ibrahim Bantulan, ArvieE strella, and Mervin Lagat.

Authorities are still trying to verify the identity of the other two victims.

Policemen and soldiers were otherwise deployed to secure the blast site. They are also conducting an investigation to identify the perpetrators and to determinetheir motives behind the incident.

Meanwhile, North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino- Mendoza offered a P100,000 reward for any information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects in the Kabacan bombing.

In a statement sent late Sunday night, Mendoza said the provincial government condemned the bombing, which killed a student and injured 16 others.

“It is downright disappointing to see innocent lives affected by this cowardly act,” she said.

Mendoza said the provincial health office is now attending to the needs of the victims.

She also said her office will also help in the burial of Montawil, a scion of a big Moro clan in the municipality of Kabacan.

“I ask every Cotabateño 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,” she said.

Kabacan is less than 20 kilometers southeast of North Cotabato’sPikit town, scene of recurring encounters since Wednesday between the military and the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

LOVELY HAZEL M. VALDE
LNU, ABCOM INTERN

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