Philippines Jihad Update. By Teresa Cerojano for AP:
MANILA, Philippines – Three bombs within hours of each other rocked the southern Philippines on Wednesday, killing at least six people and wounding 27 others, officials said, amid warnings that Muslim militants may try to disrupt this weekend’s Asian regional
Officials insisted security was tight, with police and troops on the highest alert. Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Calderon had warned that militants may try to embarrass the government, a staunch U.S. ally in the war on terror, by staging attacks during the meetings.
Calderon spoke to reporters in central Cebu city, where he was overseeing security for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asian summits.
The first explosion ripped apart a stand selling lottery tickets across the street from a public market in General Santos city, 620 miles southeast of Manila and about 310 miles south of the summit site, said Senior Superintendent Alfredo Toroctocon, the city
Three people died instantly and another two succumbed to their injuries. Staff at St. Elizabeth Hospital reported another person died on arrival, bringing the death toll to six. Among the dead were two children “” boys aged 8 and 12, the hospital staff said.
Another 22 were wounded.
Chief Superintendent German Doria, the regional police chief, said police had no suspects immediately but that the regional militant network Jemaah Islamiyah and its ally, the local Abu Sayyaf group, “usually are the ones doing all these explosions in the region.”
But he said police were also looking into the possibility that the blast stemmed from the failure of the kiosk operator to pay winners of a lottery draw.
The second explosion occurred about 2 1/2 hours later in Kidapawan city, about 65 miles north of General Santos city. An improvised bomb placed near the fence of a police outpost along the national highway exploded just after officers on duty left to go on
patrol, senior police office Pascual Peroy said. Two male passers-by were wounded.
The third blast, at a dumpsite along a major street in Cotabato city, appeared to be from an improvised bomb, although it could also have been a grenade, said city police spokesman Senior Inspector Samson Obatay. At least three garbage collectors were
“We think it was planted there on purpose, and was mixed with the garbage,” he said in a telephone interview from Cotabato, about 106 miles northwest of General Santos.
Obatay said police suspect the third blast was the handiwork of terrorists and linked to the two earlier blasts. All three cities have been hit by terror bombings blamed on the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiyah in the past.
Chief Superintendent Romeo Ricardo, director of the national police intelligence group, said police and army troops had launched operations against militants throughout the archipelago to prevent them from carrying out attacks.
Troops killed a senior al-Qaida-linked militant who allegedly led an urban terror unit of Abu Sayyaf, military officials said Wednesday. Binang Sali’s death “translates to one bomber less that could carry out an attack on any target” during the
summits in the Philippines’ second-largest urban center, military Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said.
Army spokesman Maj. Ernesto Torres said authorities were also looking at the possible involvement of “saboteurs” to ongoing peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the main Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which
has waged a decades-old struggle for a homeland in the south.
He said the bombing occurred at the culmination of a two-day meeting between rebel and government representatives in General Santos.