14 people were killed and 71 others were wounded in a blast at Davao city market, Philippines on Friday night. Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte was in the city at the time of the explosion and placed the nation under a “state of lawlessness,” saying he has not declared martial law and has not suspended the writ of habeas corpus.
Duterto has said that the blast was an act of terrorism and authorized police and military to search vehicles and frisk people at checkpoints. Duterto has often come to the luxurious Marco Polo hotel. Davao City is his hometown, he said, “We have to confront the ugly head of terrorism.”
The blast occurred at around 10 pm (10 a.m. ET) at the Roxas night market near Ateneo de Davao University. The bazaar is known to attract thousands.
Nobody has claimed the responsibility for the blast yet. Duterte said its probable the blast “could be a reprisal” from militants. Presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar stated the possible connection of the Islamist militant Abu Sayyaf group or drug lords. The cause of the explosion is also unknown but components of a supposed enhanced explosive device were found at the spot.
Police cordoned off the area after the explosion. The injured were taken to the hospital in a hurry. Police have been deployed all around the city.
Before being elected president in May, Duterto had been the mayor of the city for over 22 years. He campaigned on a no-nonsense approach to crime and launched an intense — and deadly — crackdown on drug dealers. The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s “Kill List” — regarded as one of the most accurate records of the killings of suspected drug dealers by police and vigilantes — has recorded 832 deaths since Duterte assumed office June 30. Police say at least 239 drug suspects were killed in the three weeks after Duterte’s inauguration.
Like every year, he went to Davao for a weekend vacation. Police are looking into it whether the explosion is a result of anger on Duterto. Earlier, planning had been made to kill him.