Andanar: ASG, drug lords may be behind Davao blast

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Posted at Sep 03 2016 04:38 AM | Updated as of Sep 03 2016 08:32 AM

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DAVAO CITY - Investigators are pursuing two angles behind the explosion that hit a night market in Davao City on Friday night, a Palace official said.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told ANC on Saturday morning that the explosion might have been carried out either by the Abu Sayyaf Group or it could be related to the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs.

"It's either a reprisal of the terrorists from Jolo, Sulu due to the government's operations, [the] war against terrorism there. The second possibility could be the reprisal of the drug lords," Andanar said.

Quoting initial reports, Andanar earlier said that components of a suspected improved explosive device (IED) were reportedly found at the blast site in Davao City.

What caused Davao City blast?

Andanar, however, said they are not ruling out other angles. 

The explosion occurred just before 11:00 pm at a bustling market and close to one of Davao's top hotels, city spokeswoman Catherine dela Rey said.

"There was an explosion but, as to what caused it, it is still under investigation," dela Rey said.

The explosion left at least 14 people dead, and 67 others injured, police said.

Davao is the biggest city in the southern Philippines, with a population of about two million people. It is about 1,500 kilometers from the capital of Manila.

Duterte had been mayor of Davao for most of the past two decades, before winning national elections in a landslide this year and being sworn in as president on June 30.

Islamic militants and communist rebels have carried out deadly attacks in Davao, but authorities stressed it was too early to determine the cause of Friday's blast.

"Right now, we cannot yet give definite answer to questions as to who is behind this as we are also trying to determine what really exploded," the president's son and Davao vice mayor, Paolo Duterte, said in a statement.

"Let us pray for the victims of this unfortunate incident, especially for those who died. Let us pray for those who are being treated in different hospitals and pray for their quick recovery."

He later said the president was in Davao on Friday night, but was safe.

"He is at the Davao police office with the presidential staff undergoing a briefing," the vice mayor said.

The explosion killed people dining at the night market. The bodies of at least two victims were lying amid broken plastic tables and chairs.

The site of the blast was about 100 meters from the city's premier hotel, the Marco Polo, and one of Davao's main universities.

The hotel, popular with tourists and business people, was not hit. - with a report from Agence France-Presse