24 hurt in North Cotabato school blast
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – At least 24 people, including students, were wounded in a blast that ripped through a school in Arakan, North Cotabato on Sunday evening, January 12.
The explosion happened inside the campus of Cotabato College Foundation of Science and Technology (CCFST) at around 8 pm.
It appeared a fire was set off deliberately in a school building housing security personnel at the state-run institution, before the blast occurred, police added.
"The fire drew responders, including firemen, teachers, and students, and they were among the injured," explained Senior Inspector Rolly Oranza. He said 17 of the wounded remain in a critical condition at the hospita
Arakan police said 4 of the identified victims are students and were identified as Norsaiden Haje Jaron, Mohammad Omal, Marco Adam and Saer Noisan Dimapalao. A teacher identified as Mohammad Nasa was also hurt in the explosion.
Other casualties were identified as PO1 Eleasar Lorenzo, Albaser Manalasal, Jojo Casis, Melody Caro and a certain Louiskie.
The victims were said to be staying inside the school campus.
Police told Agence France-Presse they believe the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device, but ordnance experts are still determining the exact details.
An investigation has also been launched to identify the perpetrators and the motive behind the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and police are still trying to determine the motive, Oranza said.
North Cotabato Gov Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza immediately condemned the incident and called for action to restore normalcy inside the campus.
"CFCST has a special orphanage program… How can fear, injustice and violence exist inside a campus that caters to mostly indigent and deserving students?," Mendoza said.
"I have directed PNP Director Peralta to look into the series of violence committed inside the campus… [and to] restore normalcy conducive to learning," she added. – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com