Series of blasts rocks southern Philippines, more than 20 hurt
December 23 2019 11:46 AM
Cotabato City blast


More than 20 people have been wounded in a series of explosions in the southern Philippines, the military said on Monday.

The attacks occurred on Sunday in Cotabato City and nearby towns, officials said.

In the first blast, a group of suspects who looked like teenagers lobbed a grenade at a military cargo truck with army troopers, said Major Arvin Encinas, a regional military spokesman.

Eight troops and eight civilians who were passing by were wounded, said Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani Sayadi.

A second explosion rocked Libungan town, wounding at least six civilians, Encinas said.

The third blast was reported in Upi town in Maguindanao province, where a man was hurt when an explosion hit his car while he was driving.

Authorities were still determining the explosives used in the attacks in Libungan and Upi. No motive has been identified in the three attacks.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo condemned the incidents and urged the public to remain vigilant.

‘Any attempt to sow fear, hatred and violence is doomed to fail,’ he said in a statement. ‘We will pursue the perpetrators and will harness all our might to crush all evil forces or enemies of the state, as well as their supporters.’ 

The attacks come as martial rule in the southern region of Mindanao is to be lifted on December 31. President Rodrigo Duterte first imposed martial law in May 2017 when Islamic State-allied militants laid siege to Marawi City, triggering a five-month battle that left more than 1,200 dead.

The declaration was extended three times by Congress upon Duterte's request to give troops more time to defeat the militants.

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