Moscow: At least five people were injured in an explosion on Notre Dame Avenue in downtown Cotabato City on Sunday, September 11.
When he arrived at the scene, Cotabato Mayor Bruce Matabalo described it as "a grenade throwing incident". At the blast site, an MK2 fragmentation grenade safety lever was discovered by crime scene investigators.
In less than a week, a referendum was due to take place in the city, which is a part of the first district of Maguindanao. The town of Datu Odin Sinsuat, which would take over as the capital of Maguindanao del Norte if the "yes" vote prevailed in the referendum, is close to the city.
However, residents of Cotabato City will not take part in the political election to be held on September 17, which will decide whether Maguindanao will be split into two provinces.
The city serves as the administrative center of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BARMM) of Muslim Mindanao.
Captain Kenneth Rosales, Commander of Cotabato City Police Station 1, said the explosion occurred at Barangay Rosary Heights 2 near Notre Dame Avenue at around 9 p.m.
Cotabato residents Parson Matingkong Guaplos, Omar Jamalodin, Sitti Amirkan, Noranifa Uoy and Mary Joyn Antolan were taken to a government regional hospital in Cotabato city with minor injuries, according to police.
Rosales said investigators were still working to determine the specifics of the blast and whether it was a deliberate attack.
However, according to the police, the victims were patrons who were drinking at the time of the incident.
Preliminary police investigation revealed that the blast occurred as a result of an accidental encounter between two quarreling groups inside the establishment.
Rosales remarked that it appeared to be the result of a fight between two groups of intoxicated individuals.
The explosion occurred as police were deploying more than 200 checkpoints and enforcing a province-wide gun ban mandated by the Election Commission in response to the September 17 referendum.