Monday, October 24, 2011

Bus passenger wounded in roadside bombing in Mindanao

KIDAPAWAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 24, 2011) – A roadside bomb explosion on Monday hit a commuter bus and wounding one person in fresh attack in the restive region of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, police said.

Police said the attack occurred shortly before 7 a.m. in the town of Kabacan in North Cotabato. “One passenger was wounded in the blast that also damaged the bus,” said Director Felicisimo Khu, head of the Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao.

He said a mortar bomb rigged to a cell phone which triggered detonation was used in the attack. “It was, I think, the 6th roadside bombings that targeted passenger buses in North Cotabato and extortion could be the motive behind these attacks,” Khu said.

The blast occurred a day after suspected Muslim rebels ambushed a military convoy in the town of Sultan Naga Dimaporo in Lanao del Norte province that killed two soldiers and wounded for others.

The military also blamed the rebels for the spate of attacks in Zamboanga Sibugay last week that left 8 soldiers and policemen dead. And 19 soldiers were also slain last week by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters in fierce battle in Basilan province after troops were sent on a test mission to a rebel stronghold in the town of Al-Barka to arrest a rebel leader Dan Asnawi who is accused as behind the series of kidnappings for ransom.

The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, accused the military of breaking a fragile truce when it ordered troops inside a guerilla base to arrest Asnawi on false charges.

The series of attacks sparked widespread calls from politicians and former President Joseph Estrada for an all-out war against the MILF.

British Ambassador to Manila Stephen Lillie on Monday expressed serious concern about the recent spate of ambushes in Mindanao, but said he is supporting President Benigno Aquino's rejection of an "all-out war policy" against the MILF following last week's violent attacks in Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay.

“I am seriously concerned by the reports of ambushes by MILF members in different parts of Mindanao over the past week. But meeting violence with violence will not solve the conflict in the southern Philippines.”

“On the contrary, it is only likely to lead to a downward spiral of killing, with untold misery and suffering for innocent civilians. The last time violence broke out on a wide scale, some 600,000 people were forced to flee their homes. The people of the southern Philippines deserve better than that,” Lillie said.

He said Aquino’s refusal to launch full-scale military action against the MILF demonstrated his commitment to the road of peace and said the onus is now on the MILF leadership to show its hand. “I think that the MILF need to reassure public and political opinion that they too remain committed. The current spate of ambushes must stop,” he said.

“Their grief is heart-felt and understandable, and so is the anger of many Filipinos. But I firmly believe that the President is right to reject calls for all-out war. At the end of the day, the way forward must be via the negotiating table and the continuation of peace talks,” Lillie said, but he was quick to say that for this to happen, the violence must stop.

The United Kingdom is one of four governments in the International Contact Group supporting the peace talks. The other countries are Turkey, Japan and Saudi Arabia. (Mindanao Examiner)

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