Monday, December 24, 2007

3 Hurt In Southern RP Bombing

Filipino and US bomb experts and police scene of crime officers examine the scene where an improvised bomb exploded Monday Dec. 24, 2007 in Cotabato city, wounding at least three people, including a two-year-old boy days after Australia warned of a possible terrorist attack in the country over Christmas. The Australian Embassy posted a travel advisory on its Web site Saturday warning Australians to steer clear of places frequented by foreigners, and strongly advised against travel in the southern region of Mindanao, where al-Qaeda-linked militants are active. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Mark Navales)

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 24, 2007) – A homemade exploded on Monday in the southern Philippines and wounding at least 3 people, police and military said.

The bomb was detonated outside a barber shop in downtown Cotabato City in Maguindanao province in the Muslim autonomous region. Authorities said a two-year old boy, Tutuh Balaumol, was among the wounded.

US military bomb experts were spotted assisting Filipino soldiers and policemen in investigating the blast. The US soldiers wore no patches nor nameplates, but military uniform.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, but the bombing came days after Australia warned of a possible terrorist attack in the Philippines over Christmas.

The strife-torn autonomous region has been target of terrorist attacks over the past years.

Last week, police and military agents arrested an Egyptian national suspected as being an al-Qaeda operative in Cotabato City, but freed him over the weekend after a Filipino court allowed Mohammed El-Sayed to post bail.

The foreigner, initially identified as Mohammad Said, is a preacher.

Philippine authorities said agents seized from the Egyptian man assorted bomb-making materials and a homemade explosive, including a combat manual of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

The MILF has denied links with the foreigner. Police also arrested four Turkish nationals in Cotabato City on mere suspicion they were terrorists only to be freed days later. (Mark Navales)

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