Philippines: 4 dead, 2 injured by roadside bomb in Mindanao

18th Feb 2016
Philippines: 4 dead, 2 injured by roadside bomb in Mindanao

By Roy Ramos & Hader Glang

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY, (AA) – Four people have been killed and two others left in critical condition after a roadside bomb exploded in the Philippines’ troubled Muslim south, according to the military Wednesday.

Lt. Colonel Warlito Limet, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion commander, said in a report that the victims had been in a vehicle passing Salbu village, Maguindanao province, when the device went off at 10.30 p.m. (1430GMT).

Maj. Filemon Tan, Western Mindanao command spokesperson, said in a statement that among the four fatalities were Ken Ken Macabangen, a treasurer of the municipality of Datu Salibo, and his young son.

Two others who sustained injuries were reported to be in critical condition.

While none of the numerous armed groups operating in southern Mindanao island has claimed responsibility for the incident, authorities suspect the involvement of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the country’s one-time largest Muslim rebel organization.

The BIFF is opposed to a peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government.

Three hours before the bombing, a grenade had exploded in a parking lot of two NGOs in nearby Cotabato City, the seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), that assist families displaced by the decades-old conflict in the Muslim majority region.

The state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) quoted the city’s police director as saying that a security camera at a nearby shop had captured two men riding on a motorcycle tossing a grenade toward the offices.

“Nobody was in the two offices and the grenade landed at the parking lot,” Senior Supt. Raul Supiter said. “As to the motive, our investigators are still gathering statements from officials of two NGOs.”

Authorities suspect that Tuesday’s explosions could have been diversionary tactics by the BIFF, which has been engaged in skirmishes with government troops in Maguindanao’s towns.

Concerns over the chances of large-scale conflict returning to the mineral-rich — but impoverished — southern region have increased since Congress adjourned for election campaigning earlier this month without passing an autonomy bill drafted through negotiations with the MILF.

The shelved Bangsamoro Basic Law would have sealed a 2014 government-MILF peace deal, bringing 17 years of peace negotiations in Mindanao to a close, and replacing the ARMM with a new regional Bangsamoro entity.

The BIFF – which broke away from the MILF in 2008 and rejected the peace talks –has claimed allegiance to Daesh.

 

[Photo: Many explosions have taken place in Zamboanga City in the past. For example, bomb attack on 23 January 2015. Photographer: Hader Glang/AA]

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