Deadly blast hits Davao as Philippine president visits hometown

The blast occurred just before 11pm outside the high-end Marco Polo hotel, leaving bodies strewn amid the wreckage of plastic tables and chairs at a night market in the heart of the city.
Philippine police officers stand beside bodies of victims after an explosion at a night market that has left about 10 people dead and wounded dozens of others  in southern Davao city on September 2, 2016. Manman Dejeto / AP Photo
Philippine police officers stand beside bodies of victims after an explosion at a night market that has left about 10 people dead and wounded dozens of others in southern Davao city on September 2, 2016. Manman Dejeto / AP Photo

MANILA // An bomb blast at a market in the home city of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte killed at least 10 people on Friday and wounded dozens more, officials said.

Mr Duterte was in Davao but was safe and at a police station after the explosion, his son Paolo Duterte, who is vice mayor of the city, said. The president went straight into meetings with security chiefs following the blast, according to his aides.

The blast occurred just before 11pm outside the high-end Marco Polo hotel, leaving bodies strewn amid the wreckage of plastic tables and chairs on a road that had been closed to traffic for the market in the heart of the city.

Presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said an improvised explosive device caused the explosion, adding drug traffickers opposed to Mr Duterte’s war on crime or Islamic militants may have been responsible.

“There are many elements who are angry at our president and our government,” Mr Andanar told DZMM radio.

“We are not ruling out the possibility that they might be responsible for this but it is too early to speculate.”

Ten people were confirmed killed and up to 60 others injured, according to Davao police spokeswoman Catherine dela Rey.

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

Mr Duterte is hugely popular in Davao, having served as its mayor for more than 22 years before his stunning national election win in May, garnered from the popularity of a promised war on drugs that has killed more than 2,000 people since he took office on June 30.

The explosion was outside a hotel that Mr Duterte visits frequently. He had earlier on Friday shrugged off rumours of a plot to assassinate him, saying such threats were to be expected.

Davao is located in Mindanao, a large southern island beset by decades of Islamist insurgency. However, the city itself has been largely peaceful in recent years.

Communist rebels, who have been waging an armed struggle since 1968, also maintain a presence in rural areas neighbouring Davao.

* Reuters and Agence France-Presse

Published: September 3, 2016 04:00 AM

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