DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A powerful blast ripped through a crowded public market in this city before midnight last night, killing 10 people instantly and leaving more than 60 others wounded.
The blast occurred in the massage area of the popular Roxas night market, which was packed with people relaxing at the end of the workweek in bars, massage parlors and roadside food stalls.
Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, who is acting mayor in lieu of his sister Sara, ordered establishments in the market temporarily shuttered as the area was cordoned off by police and a lockdown was ordered in the city.
The blast occurred while President Duterte is at his home in this city.
Authorities still have to establish if the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device or by a liquefied petroleum gas tank.
Witnesses said they heard a loud explosion and saw smoke. A masseuse said the blast appeared to have come from a chair.
The Davao Police Regional Office chief said up to 12 people might have been killed in the blast.
The wounded were rushed to different hospitals, with many brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center.
Panicked people rushed to the nearby Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) campus, where authorities also ordered a lockdown.
The ADDU advised students inside the campus to stay calm as it assured them of their safety.
“The ground floor of the community center is currently serving as the clinic. Students and victims may seek first aid help there,” ADDU said in its official Twitter account.
“It is highly advisable to stay indoors, and avoid going to crowded public spaces such as malls and parks to be safe,” it added.
The blast occurred following President Duterte’s order to the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf.
On March 4, 2003, a bomb exploded at a waiting shed at the Davao International Airport, killing 21 people and leaving about 145 people wounded. A month later on April 3, the city’s Sasa Wharf was also bombed, leaving 17 dead and 56 wounded.
The Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the airport attack. Several members of the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were later apprehended in connection with the bombings.
Hours after the wharf bombing, three mosques in the city were bombed by masked men. – With Janvic Mateo