A grenade attack on a public school has wounded at least 20 people in the southern Philippines, including government personnel who were there to put out a fire.
Firefighters, disaster-response personnel and police were trying to control the fire in a bunkhouse of security guards at the state-run Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology late on Sunday in Arakan town when somebody lobbed a grenade near a firetruck. The attacker escaped, police said.
Arakan police chief Inspector Rolly Oranza said a policeman, government firefighters, students and school guards were among those wounded with shrapnel and flying debris. They were taken to hospitals and two were in serious condition.
Investigators have not identified the attacker and were trying to determine if the fire was deliberately set to lure authorities before the powerful blast, Oranza said.
In November, police found a bomb made from a mortar round near the school’s flagpole and main administrative building but it was not rigged to explode and apparently was set to scare people, he said.
Arakan, an agricultural town of 45,000 people in North Cotabato province, has relatively been quiet compared to nearby towns and provinces which have come under attack from Muslim fighters in the past.
Communist fighters, though, have a presence but it was not immediately clear if they played a role in Sunday’s attack.