Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Philippine Muslim rebels condemn deadly bus bombing

Moro Islamic Liberation Front soldiers patrol a village in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 26, 2011) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has condemned Wednesday the deadly bombing of a bus in the country’s financial district of Makati City.

“We condemn this attack on innocent civilians. It is un-Islamic and must be condemned by all god-fearing people,” said Eid kabalu, a spokesman for the MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

Police said 5 people had died and wounded 14 more from Tuesday bombing of the bus, which was carrying more than two dozen passengers near Buendia Avenue.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack which the police claimed could be the handiwork of extortionists, but authorities are also eyeing the militant Abu Sayyaf group as behind the bombing.

Police said a mortar bomb rigged to a cell phone and planted under a seat in the middle part of the bus was used in the attack. It said the improvised explosive was also the same commonly used by Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya and Moro rebels in previous attacks on civilian targets in the Philippines.

“The MILF has nothing to do with the bombing. And police should investigate the bombing thoroughly to pinpoint the real culprit of this unnecessary violence against civilians,” Kabalu told the Mindanao Examiner.

The latest attack was also similar to the Jemaah Islamiya bombing of a bus in Manila in February 2005 that killed four people and the series of bombings in December 2000 that left 22 people dead. Both attacks wounded scores of civilians.

In Mindanao, North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza has renewed her call for transport authorities and the police to immediately train and deploy armed marshals that would detect, deter and suppress hostile acts targeting public buses, terminals and passengers.

“The bombing incident in Makati City just goes to show that our public buses, whether in Metro Manila or in Mindanao, are extremely vulnerable to lawless elements,” Mendoza said.

“Government must forcefully demonstrate that it will spare no effort in securing bus riders, who are now virtual sitting ducks. These are remarkably troublesome times that call for bold and highly determined counteroffensives to protect commuters and fight off potential threats,” she said.

A bomb attack on a bus in North Cotabato in October last year also killed 10 people and wounded 30 others.

Mendoza said the marshal service is a definite countermeasure to the increasing number of terrorists, armed robbers and extortionists preying on buses.

“Right now, law enforcement authorities don't have any strategy whatsoever in response to the mounting threats to public safety in buses, except to idly wait for the next attack, and then try to run after the perpetrators after the fact,” she said. (Mindanao Examiner)

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