At least 25 persons, 17 of them now in critical condition, were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off inside Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology in Barangay Poblacion on Sunday evening while the victims were battling a fire, police said.
Most of the victims were teachers, students, security guard and police personnel who among those who responded to a fire at the residential cottage inside the campus where school security guards temporarily reside when the explosion occurred, Senior Inspector Rolly Oranza of Arakan, North Cotabato said.
The local police has identified some of the injured as Nor–saidin Haje JHaron, Moham–mad Omal, Marco Adama, Saeir Bosian Dimapalao, all students, college teacher Mohammad Nasa, Police Officer 1 Eleazar Lorenzo, government employees Jojo Casis, Melody Caro and Leo Tuble, Albasel Manalasal and a certain Louie.
Oranza said initial investigation showed that fire was intentional as arson investigators recovered containers with gasoline and chemical residue.
“We are still determining the composition of improvised explosive,” Oranza said, adding that motive of the attack remained unknown.
The police chief refused to comment on reports that the explosion was part of the efforts to remove the school president who was allegedly opposed by students, workers and some faculty members. The blast reportedly occurred near the official residence of the school president.
Last September, an improvised explosive device was planted in front of the school flagpole but an alert security guard found it. Police later defused the bomb made of 81-millimeter mortar.
Gov. Emmylou Mendoza of North Cotabato condemned the bombing and directed Sr. Supt. Danilo Peralta, North Cotabato police provincial director, to look into the case, identify the perpetrators, and file criminal charges against them.
WILLIAM DEPASUPIL AND PNA