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Mindanao college blast injures 24

Police struggle to determine motive or name suspects

Mindanao college blast injures 24

Medical personnel attend to a victim of the college explosion (photo courtesy Ronald Vale/Bureau of Fire Protection)

Ferdinand Cabrera, Cotabato City

January 13, 2014

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A suspected improvised bomb attack at a college in the southern Philippines left 24 people wounded, many critically, including students and teachers, police said Monday.

The blast occurred about 8pm on Sunday inside a building at the Cotabato College Foundation of Science and Technology in Arakan, in the North Cotabato province of Mindanao.

 A fire was deliberately started in the building which housed security personnel before the blast occurred, police added.

"The fire drew responders, including firemen, teachers and students, and they were among the injured," said Senior Inspector Rolly Oranza of the local police force.

He said 17 of the wounded, including several students, were in "critical condition".

Authorities are still determining what caused the explosion, but Oranza said that police believe it was an "improvised explosive device".

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, and police are still trying to determine the motive, Oranza said.

While Muslim rebels are not thought to operate in Arakan, there has been violence between armed paramilitary groups fighting for control of the area.

In October 2011, Father Fausto Tentorio, an Italian Catholic priest who had been helping tribal groups, was shot dead in his parish compound in Arakan.

In September, Oranza said police defused a bomb planted near the college’s flagpole.

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