Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Extort Gang Eyed In Mindanao Blast

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 19, 2008) – The Philippine military on Tuesday tagged a criminal syndicate as behind a new bomb attack on a commuter bus in the southern city of Cotabato.

The bombing injured three people late Monday and security officials tagged the Al-Khobar gang, an affiliate of the notorious Abu Sayyaf, also blamed for past attacks in the troubled region of Mindanao.

“Initial reports suggested the bombing was perpetrated by the Al-Khobar which has been linked to previous attacks on commuter buses in Mindanao,” Major Julieto Ando, spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said three people were injured the bombing that damaged a bus owned by the Weena Transit. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Cotabato City, rocked by past bombings, kidnappings and killings has been previously tagged by Western countries as a dangerous place for foreigners because of the presence of terrorists.

Earlier this month, a bomb attack on a bus depot also wounded at least eight people in the town of Midsayap in North Cotabato. Although no groups claimed responsibility for the blast, authorities have linked the Al-Khobar and the Abu Sayyaf in the attack.

Last month, a homemade bomb exploded in Midsayap, damaging a bus also owned by Weena Transit. The explosive, assembled from a mortar round, was left near at the parked bus. (With reports from Mark Navales)

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