Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Bomb attacks in the Philippines

Six dead, 40 wounded in Philippines bomb attacks

JOLO, Philippines

At least six people were killed and more than 40 wounded by twin bomb blasts in the
Philippines Tuesday, in what officials described as coordinated attacks by Al Qaeda-linked militants. The first bomb exploded in a commercial area on Jolo island, killing six people and wounding around 30, police said. It was followed around two hours later by car bomb blast next to a parked military patrol jeep in Iligan city.
The second blast wounded at least 10 people, including three soldiers.

Jolo, in the southern Philippines, is a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf Muslim rebels and local anti-terror task force chief Major General Juancho Sabban was quick to point the finger at the militant group.

US forces, who have been involved in training missions on Jolo since 2003, were seen securing the bomb site and helping to gather evidence from the rubble. One bloodied body was seen lying on the ground as a bomb disposal robot searched for possible secondary bombs.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for a string of bombings and kidnappings, most recently of three Red Cross workers on Jolo island in January. They are still holding one of them, an Italian.

Tuesday's bombings came just two days after a bomb exploded outside a Roman Catholic cathedral in Cotabato city, also in the south. The number of deaths in that attack, which was blamed on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), another Islamic rebel group, rose to six Tuesday, when one of the more than 50 people wounded died of his injuries.

Since January, there had been about 56 bombings in the south, some of them targeting troops, but most of them killing or maiming civilians. The MILF has also admitted to training with the JI in the past, and military intelligence officials have said dozens of foreign militants remain in the south.

The Abu Sayyaf has been on the run from a military offensive launched after they kidnapped Italian aid worker Eugenio Vagni in January. A Filipina and a Swiss colleague abducted with Vagni were separately freed in April.

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