Suspect in Cotabato mall blast surrenders, denies involvement

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2019 02:52 PM

Police officers investigate at the site of an explosion outside a shopping mall in Cotabato City on the southern island of Mindanao on Monday. Stringer, AFP

MANILA - One of 2 suspects in a New Year eve blast in Cotabato City surrendered to authorities, police said Tuesday.

Two people were killed and 35 were wounded when a bomb went off outside a shopping mall on Dec. 31. The explosion prompted officers to search the establishment, leading to the discovery of another suspected explosive that they destroyed.

A 56-year-old resident of the city turned himself in to authorities after watching news reports identifying him as a suspect in the crime, based on surveillance footage from the mall, said Chief Supt. Eliseo Tam Rasco, director of the Soccsksargen police.

The man denied any involvement in the attack, said Rasco.

However, police said it found circumstantial evidence against the suspect who was seen at a comfort room and lottery outlet with another suspect who allegedly planted the explosives.

Police are looking at political rivalry and terror activities of the Dawlah Islamiya group as possible motives in the crime.

The blast came just weeks before a plebiscite in January that will determine the scope of the Bangsamoro autonomous region, created as part of peace deal between Manila and Moro rebels in 2014.

The southern part of the largely Catholic Philippines has been rocked for decades by violent separatist insurgent groups including some linked to Islamic State.

Some 100,000 lives have been claimed by the rebellion, according to a government count.

Report from Zhander Cayabyab, ABS-CBN News