Philippines president declares 'state of lawlessness'

Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, has declared a "state of lawlessness" after a bomb blast hit a night market in his home city of Davao, killing 14 and injuring 67 others.

"I must declare a state of lawless violence in this country, it's not martial law," he told reporters after the incident, adding that he believed the explosion was an act of terrorism.

The blast happened outside the Marco Polo hotel - a place the president visits often, and where he held many meetings during his election campaign.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, with conflicting eyewitness reports about what happened.

President Duterte is popular for his no-nonsense crackdown on those involved in drug trade Credit: Reuters

As part of the declaration, the president has authorised police and military to search cars and frisk people at checkpoints.

Mr Duterte's spokesman, Ernesto Abella, warned the public to be vigilant and avoid crowds.

"While no one has yet claimed responsibility it is best that the populace refrain from reckless speculation and avoid crowded places," he said. "There is no cause for alarm, but it is wise to be cautious."

The attack comes as the uncompromising president wages war against drug kingpins and dealers, Islamist rebels, and corrupt bureaucrats.

While Davao itself is safe, it is in the region of Mindanao, a southern island province beset by decades of Muslim militancy.

Abu Sayyaf, a rebel group loosely linked to so-called Islamic State, operates in the area, with the ongoing military offensive against them intensifying last week after the group beheaded a young kidnapped villager.