Police in the southern Philippines say six people were killed when a homemade bomb ripped through a restaurant in the port city of Cagayan de Oro.
Authorities said Saturday that about 28 people were wounded when the blast occurred around midnight, many of them representatives of pharmaceutical companies, who were having a party at the restaurant.
Most of the victims were doctors and pharmaceutical salesmen who had just attended a national convention of lung-disease specialists that was held at a nearby hotel, said city police chief Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares.
“This is one of the busiest areas of Cagayan de Oro. Somebody left a bomb on a chair at the bistro,” he said. He declined to speculate on the motive for the bombing, saying an investigation was under way.
Cagayan de Oro is on the main southern island of Mindanao, which has been blighted by a decades-old rebellion by elements of the large Muslim minority in the mainly Catholic Asian nation.
Police investigators still have not retrieved a video footage showing the perpetrators but have instead relied on witnesses’ testimonies to pinpoint the bombers.
The CCTV cameras of the restaurant where the bomb went off were reportedly positioned inside the establishment while the blast happened outside.
Moreno also urged the public to remain calm and said police authorities continue to be on a red alert status two days after the blast.
In Zamboanga City, Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, described as “far-fetched” reports linking the Cagayan de Oro bombing to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“Ang layo naman nyon (That’s far-fetched),” Ardo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.
Some 100 MNLF members gathered in the house of their leader, Nur Misuari, on Thursday amid reports that the group was to declare “independence.” No declaration happened on that day which, Misuari said was just a gathering of his followers.
The MNLF, which signed a final peace agreement with the government in 1996, has complained of being left out in the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The MILF is a breakaway of the MNLF.