Monday, February 23, 2009

Homemade bomb explodes prematurely in southern Philippines

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 23, 2009) – A blasting rigged to a powerful improvised explosive went off prematurely Monday night in Kidapawan City in the southern Philippine province of North Cotabato, officials said.

Officials said there were no casualties in the explosion and soldiers recovered an 81-mm mortar bomb left at a public square near a row of commercial establishments. “The blasting cap exploded; however, the main charge, an 81-mm mortar, did not detonate,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, a spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said the mortar was rigged to a cell phone designed to detonate the bomb.

Ponce blamed the foiled attacked to the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is fighting for self-determination the past three decades now.

“This terrorist act is perpetrated by the MILF to sow terror in central Mindanao,” he said without further elaborating.

It was unknown whether there were pieces of evidence that linked the MILF to the failed bombing. But the MILF blamed unnamed politicians as behind the failed bombing, saying, it was aimed to discredit the rebel group.

“Authorities should investigate this (foiled bombing) thoroughly because this could be a scenario perpetrated by politicians opposed to the peace process and the MILF,” Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader, said in a separate interview.

North Cotabato was among the provinces included in the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, which opposed the government’s Muslim homeland deal with the MILF in August last year.

The Supreme Court ruled the deal was illegal. The accord would have granted homeland to some four million Muslims across more than 700 villages in Mindanao. (With a repor from Geo Solmerano)

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