ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 19, 2010) - An improvised explosive was detonated late Tuesday near the house of a local mayor in Basilan province in the southern Philippines, reports said.
Reports said the bomb went off several meters from the house of Lamitan City mayor Roderick Furigay. No group or individual claimed responsibility for the blast, but Basilan is hotbed of Abu Sayyaf terrorism.
It was unknown if the Abu Sayyaf, tagged by the military and police in previous bombings, was involved in the latest attack. But police said three days before the blast, the Abu Sayyaf headed by Furiji Indama, threatened to detonate bombs and stage kidnappings-for-ransom in Lamitan.
Security officials did not say what kind of explosive was used in the attack or whether the mayor was the target of the bombing. The attack occurred on the eve of the mayor's annual state of the city address.
"Bomb experts are still trying to determine the kind of explosive used in the attack," said Senior Superintendent Antonio Mendoza, the provincial police chief. "We have stepped security in Lamitan and other parts of the province; there are more checkpoints and roadblocks and added foot patrol, especially at night."
He said villagers saw two men on a motorcycle fleeing the area before the blast. "We have witnesses who saw two young men on a motorcycle fleeing before the explosion," he told the Mindanao Examiner.
Security forces were fighting Abu Sayyaf militants in Basilan, whose group authorities said is tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya terror networks. (Mindanao Examiner)