It's news items like this one that make people more open to the idea of passing a draconian anti-terrorism bill: http://newsinfo.inq7.net/inquirerhea...ticle_id=26190
Fourth blast in 2 days rocks South
By Inquirer Mindanao
Last updated 03:48am (Mla time) 10/12/2006
Published on Page A1 of the October 12, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
COTABATO CITY -- An explosive device went off yesterday at a shop in Cotabato City but caused no injuries a day after two blasts left at least six people dead and several dozen wounded, police said. A fourth bomb was dismantled.
Police blamed the incidents on the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah and guerrillas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
All the six fatalities were the result of a bombing at Makilala town in North Cotabato province on Tuesday. Authorities corrected an earlier report that the Makilala blast killed 12 people.
The violence came hours after the US, Australian and British embassies issued warnings against travel to Mindanao and said the threat of imminent attacks or kidnappings was high, specifically in places frequented by foreigners.
In Manila, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the government “will make sure the perpetrators are hunted down and brought to justice.”
She also instructed officials to contact the MILF to assist in the identification and arrest of the bombers. The rebels, who are engaged in peace talks with the government, have denied any terrorism links, but there are concerns some guerrilla elements may be cooperating with militants.
Senior Inspector Samson Obatay, city police spokesperson, said yesterday’s attack occurred here at around 11:45 a.m. near a bank and a shopping mall. “Nobody was injured,” he said.
He said an attendant of Today’s Commercial Store along Don Rufino Alonzo Street saw a man who left a bag near their establishment.
“She tried to look at what was inside the bag. And when she felt that something suspicious was inside it, she threw it away. The bag landed in an area where there was nobody around,” Obatay said.
Part of wider plot
Obatay said the explosive was fashioned out of an 81-millimeter mortar shells fitted with a timing device, the same type of bomb used in the Makilala and Tacurong attacks. He said the explosion, which caused a minor damage in one of the neighboring stores, was obviously part of a wider plot by terror groups like the JI.
In Makilala, military bomb experts found another improvised explosive device (IED) near the site of Tuesday night’s blast, said Colonel Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade.
Pabustan said bomb experts scouring the periphery of the Makilala town gymnasium found an abandoned bag at around 8 a.m. yesterday. He said the bag contained two 81-mm mortar shells with a mobile phone and a 9-volt battery.
“The perpetrators really planned to maim and kill as many people with these two powerful IEDs,” Pabustan told the Inquirer.
He said the mobile phone call registry showed more than 20 missed calls, an indication that the perpetrators had intended to detonate the bomb on Tuesday. It also had a text message in the Maguindanao dialect that read: “Where are you? You are the only ones who have not yet detonated (the bomb).”
“Luckily, it did not explode. Had it exploded, there could be hundreds of others killed because the area was so crowded at the time,” Pabustan said. “We have not arrested anyone but we are really blaming JI for this,” he said.
Makilala was celebrating its 52nd founding day when a bomb exploded in a trade fair near the municipal hall Tuesday night.
Makilala Mayor Onofre Respicio said only six people were killed in Tuesday night’s explosion, contrary to his earlier claim that 12 had died.
“The figures of fatalities reached 12 last (Tuesday) night because other dead victims listed in hospitals in Makilala were also listed in other hospitals in nearby Kidapawan City,” Respicio said.
Those killed were identified as Wilfredo Singson, 50; Honey Grace Gomez, 29; Romeo Pajugas, 27; Len-Len Tajan-Tajan, all of Makilala; Geralyn Alba of Kidapawan City, and Nelson Turalba of Ecoland, Davao City.
More than 20 others were confirmed wounded, he said.
Pabustan said the Makilala bombers could be the same group behind the Tacurong City public market blast that left four persons injured on Tuesday.
“They could still be traveling right now,” he said.
Pabustan said police and military checkpoints had been set up in strategic areas and all vehicles were being subjected to search.
North Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Piñol said he was more inclined to believe that the Makilala blast was the handiwork of the MILF.
“The bombs used, the way it was detonated had all the signatures of the MILF’s previous attacks in the province and elsewhere in the region,” Piñol said.
He said the attack only proved that the MILF has not abandoned its terror stance despite the peace process.
The peace talks have hit a snag following disagreements over the concept of the Bangsamoro territory. The MILF wanted more than 1,000 villages for inclusion in the Bangsamoro juridical entity but the government said only around 600 villages are Moro-dominated.
“I’m deeply disappointed because we are talking, we have been communicating and they promised not to use violence in pursuit of their cause and then now they have attacked civilians,” Piñol said.
MILF denies involvement
But Eid Kabalu, speaking for the MILF, quickly dismissed Piñol’s claim and said the governor had been misinformed.
“Governor Piñol’s allegations are sweeping because he made pronouncements even before a formal investigation is conducted,” Kabalu told the Inquirer.
“We don’t need things like this, we don’t need to use force to pursue our cause … right now, even if there’s impasse in the talks, the ceasefire agreement is in place,” he added.
Kabalu also said the MILF does not operate in Makilala, a banana- and rubber-producing town, which is a former lair of communist rebels.
Ghazali Jaafar, MILF political affairs chief, said his group was condemning the bomb attacks.
“The leadership of the MILF condemns the bombing. We dislike this kind of act. Political problems cannot be solved through such actions, which are anti-people,” he said.
Jaafar said the MILF is also ready to extend help to bring the culprits before justice. Edwin O. Fernandez, Charlie C. Señase, Jeoffrey Maitem, Julie S. Alipala, Jeffrey M. Tupas, Eldie Aguirre, Inquirer Mindanao; Associated Press and Reuters