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Explosion in Davao City

There has been an explosion in a crowded open air marketplace in Davao City in the Philippines. At least a dozen people are dead and scores wounded, with the verified numbers of each climbing as rescue personnel and emergency services continue their work. Conflicting reports have the explosion occurring sometime between 10:30pm (22h30) and 11:00 pm (23h00) local time. A spokesman from the Southern Philippine Medical Center says all the fatalities suffered multiple shrapnel injuries.

The Philippine military's Eastern Command has been tasked with assisting the Philippine National Police respond and maintain order. All units have been put on alert and all Davao City Police have been recalled to duty, with days off and vacation canceled. You can follow the PNP on Facebook here.

As of this writing no one has taken responsibility for the bombing and EOD personnel are on site. The blast is likely the work of either an Islamist group or a narcotics organization.  Military officials are leaning towards the former, as just four days ago at least 15 soldiers were killed in fighting with Abu Sayyaf militants on Jolo Island (a little less than 600 miles from Davao City).

Explains Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana,

“While nobody has come up to own the act we can only assume that this was perpetrated by the terrorist group Abu Sayaff that has suffered heavy casualties in Jolo in the past weeks.”

The drug connection, however, cannot yet be discounted. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is originally from Davao City and his son is Vice Mayor there. Since his election just a few months ago nearly 1,000 people have been killed in anti-drug police operations. At least ten police officers have also been killed.

Interestingly, the Manila Bulletin is reporting that Facebook has initiated a well-being function for people to advise their contacts they're safe (you can find that here).

Davao City, named for the Davao River, is a metropolis of some 1.6 million souls toward the southern end of the archipelago, on the island of Mindanao. It is the third most populous city in the country and the largest on the island. The official city website can be found online here.

A broadcast from local news:

Learn more on Reuters. Cover photo courtesy CNN Philippines.

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