Investigators are eyeing at Islamic State-inspired groups as possibly responsible for planting a homemade bomb that went off in front of the baggage counter at the entrance to South Seas Mall along Don Rufino Alonzo Avenue in Cotabato City on New Year’s Eve. The explosion killed two people and injured more than 30 others outside the shopping mall.
According to Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Daulah Islamiyah could be behind the blast. Both groups have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) jihadi group in Iraq and Syria. However Abu Misry Mama, spokesperson for the BIFF and the Daulah Islamiyah, said that neither group had a hand in the blast.
Meanwhile, a militant Moro group rejected the military’s theory. Jerome Succor Aba, a spokesperson for Suara Bangsamoro, said the rush to accuse IS-inspired militants would justify a military takeover of Cotabato City and other Muslim-majority areas in Mindanao. As it is, the residents are preparing for a plebiscite to ratify the proposed charter of a new Muslim autonomous region on the island.