MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 26, 2008) – Soldiers disarmed a powerful bomb Thursday near a Christian church in the southern Philippines, an army spokesman said.
The bomb, assembled from an 81mm mortar, was discovered in front of the Iglesia ni Cristo in North Cotabato's Kabacan town, barely a day after an improvised explosive went off outside the church of the Adventist Jehova's Witness.
"We suspect the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels as behind the blast and the foiled attempt to bomb another church in Kabacan," Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, of the 6th Infantry Division, said, citing intelligence reports.
The blast caused no major damage to the church, but it occurred on the eve of the Christian feast in Kabacan town. "Had it exploded, there will surely be many casualties," Ando said, adding, the celebration Thursday went on without incidents.
Ando said the bomb found in front of the Iglesia ni Cristo Church was concealed in a backpack. "It had wiring and an electronic clock," he said. The MILF, the country's largest Muslim rebel group, denied it was behind the attack on Jehova's Witness. "We have nothing to do it with. We are not terrorists," said Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF spokesman.
Manila has suspended peace talks with the MILF after rebel forces launched simultaneous attacks on civilian targets in Mindanao in August after the failed signing of a Muslim homeland deal, which the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional. (Mindanao Examiner)