DAVAO -- Authorities have identified the casualties in the blast that rocked M'lang in North Cotabato on Sunday.
The explosion occurred around 7:45 p.m. Sunday inside a billiard hall near the crowded town plaza, killing three people and wounding 23 others.
The three fatalities were identified as Jade Villarin, John Camiring and Francis Rio.
Villarin and Camiring died on the spot as the bomb exploded near them, while Rio died at the hospital around 5:45 a.m. Monday.
The wounded were identified as: John Ramirez, 30 years old; Lorelyn Catinoy, 18; Apolinario Igot, 28; Nelson Baliguat, 55; Ian Cris Quintinita; Marjon Billones; Kenneth Garcia, 16; Joemar Bases; Ruth Billones; Amar Patad; Beverly Brazilinio; Mike Laba; Solimar Baligasa;. Rex Javier; Ruel Sales; Ali Aguirre; Aldrin Natal; Erickson Brazilinio;
Aldrin Cadungon; Ericka Brazilinio; Erica Mae Jacilenyo; Thelma Ceballos; and Ryan Ignacio.
Another wounded victim has remained unidentified.
The wounded were brought to various hospitals in M'lang and nearby Kidapawan City.
M'lang Mayor Joselito Pinol said two men left the bomb, which was apparently concealed in a bag, at a billiard hall. The two men left hurriedly on a motorcycle before the bomb exploded.
Pinol said bomb shrapnel and flying debris hit people at the billiard hall and in a nearby carnival. The blast damaged the billiard hall.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Government troops have been on alert for possible attacks in the region by a Moro rebel faction opposed to a new peace deal between the government and a larger Moro insurgent group.
North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza condemned the latest attack in her province that happened exactly one week after another explosion hit Kabacan town that killed one person and injured 16 others.
The governor assured the victims that they will be assisted by the local government, as she directed the police and the military to "work and coordinate very closely with each other to identify the perpetrator/s and bring them to justice."
"We demand justice for all the victims and peace loving people of Mlang. The provincial government condemns in the highest form such adventurism," said Governor Taliño-Mendoza Sunday evening. (With AP/Sun.Star Davao)