At least 14 killed in Philippines blast

  • 03/09/2016
(Twitter / @leonorrala)
(Twitter / @leonorrala)

An explosion at a market in the home city of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens more, his spokesman says, adding the cause of the blast is unknown.

Mr Duterte was in Davao on Friday, but was safe and at a police station after the explosion, his son, Paolo Duterte, who is vice mayor of the city, told Reuters on Friday.

The incident took place at a street market outside the high-end Marco Polo hotel in Davao, in the southern Philippines, a military spokesman told reporters by phone. A police official said at least 30 people had been hospitalised.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told CNN Philippines that some 60 people were wounded and 10 confirmed dead, though that figure has since risen.

Mr Duterte has declared a "state of lawlessness" in the country.

Duterte's declaration came as the Abu Sayyaf militant group claimed responsibility for the late Friday attack that also injured 71 people, with the extremists warning of more attacks in the coming days.

The Philippine leader stressed that he had not declared martial law, but that the move would allow him to ask the military to conduct operations according to his instructions.

"These are extraordinary times," he told reporters during a visit before dawn at the site of the bomb attack in the southern city of Davao, where he used to be the mayor. "I can order soldiers to search premises."

Placing the country under a state of lawlessness empowers the president to call on the military to help the police in anti-crime operations.

In a statement, the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson pointed out that the declaration has "limitations" as the president can only order the armed forces to quell violence.

Martial law can only be declared in certain situations, the statement continued. "Only if there is an invasion or a rebellion, and when public safety is at risk, can he [the president] suspend the writ of habeas corpus or declare martial law."

The statement called on Philippine citizens to be vigilant against "those who wish to create chaos".

Alan Aguilar, an eyewitness who was eating dinner at the night market, said the explosion was deafening and everybody took cover. Following the blast he heard cries of help and saw smoke billowing from the area of the attack.

"It was frightening," he said. "There were some people who were not injured but who were walking around aimlessly, as if they were disoriented and didn't know where to go."

Security forces in Metropolitan Manila have been placed on highest alert amid concerns of more attacks. Police forces have been beefed up in airports and other public places and institutions.

Reuters / DPA