MANILA, Sept 2, (RTRS): An explosion at a packed night market in the home city of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte killed at least 12 people on Friday and wounded dozens more, officials said, but the cause of the blast was not immediately clear.
The blast tore through a street market outside the high-end Marco Polo hotel, a frequent haunt of Duterte, who was in the southern city of Davao at the time but was not hurt. “We were having a meeting and we heard a very huge explosion. The first thing we thought was ‘it’s a bomb’,” said John Rhyl Sialmo III, 20, a student at the nearby Ateneo de Davao University.
“The area where there was the explosion was a massage parlour. So we saw these men and women from that place in their uniform, they went to the school lobby to seek help. They were soaked in blood.” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, speaking to CNN Philippines, described the blast as an “unspecified explosion”. “There is nothing definite about it but it has resulted in the death of … at least 10 persons, and injury of about 60,” Abella said.
Police later said two of at least 30 people taken to hospital had since died, bringing the toll to 12. Regional police chief Manuel Guerlan said a ring of checkpoints had been thrown around the city’s exit points. “A thorough investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the explosion,” he said.
“We call on all the people to be vigilant at all times.” Duterte is hugely popular in Davao, having served as its mayor for more than 22 years before his stunning national election win in May, garnered from the popularity of a promised war on drugs