Soldiers disarm IED in Southern Philippines

November 17, 2007 at 3:55 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 17, 2007) – Philippines soldiers disarmed Saturday a powerful bomb planted in downtown Cotabato City in the southern Muslim region of Mindanao, officials said.

Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a regional army spokesman, said the bomb, assembled from an 81mm mortar shell, was discovered by civilians at around 6 a.m. and reported it to authorities.

The bomb, he said, was hidden in a cigarette box when it was discovered. No group or individual claimed ownership of the bomb.

But Filipino authorities blamed previous bombings in the city to the Abu Sayyaf and local militants with ties to the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya terror network and rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Our soldiers disarmed the IED and we still don’t know who was behind this, but we have alerted our forces to stay vigilant,” Ando told the Mindanao Examiner.

The discovery of the bomb came ahead of a state of the region speech Monday by Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan in Cotabato City. It was unknown if the bomb was intended to disrupt Ampatuan’s address.

His father, Andal Ampatuan, governor of Maguindanao, also escaped a grenade attack in July in one of his bungalows in Cotabato City.

Ampatuan also escaped an assassination attempt in June when a bomb exploded near his convoy in Shariff Aguak town, but 5 people were killed in the attack, including the politician’s nephew.

In 2002, one of his sons, Saudi Ampatuan, a town mayor, was killed in a bombing in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao province and his family blamed the attack to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels.

On Friday, policemen and soldiers also mounted a massive search for two men who tried to kill an agriculture official in Cotabato City.

One of the men lobbed a grenade on a car carrying Osmeña Montanier, finance chief of the Department of Agriculture in Mindanao. The grenade failed to explode, police and military said.

Police said Montanier was on his way to office in Cotabato City at around 1.30 p.m. when one of two men on motorcycle tossed the grenade into the car, but it hit a tire and rolled to the pavement.

No group claimed responsibility for the failed assassination. Cotabato City is one of the most dangerous places in Mindanao where extra-judicial killings were not uncommon.

Cotabato City has been previously attacked and police and military authorities blamed Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists and rebels for the spate of bombings that left dozens of people dead over the past years.

Aside from terrorists and rebels, extortion syndicates also operate in Cotabato City, once tagged by the United States as a “doormat” of terrorists in the southern Philippines.

The tag caused the suspension of a P54-million road project funded by the US Agency for International Development, saying, terrorist and rebel groups might use the project for their illegal activities.

Several foreigners with alleged links to al-Qaeda and Jemaah islamiya had been arrested in Cotabato City in the past. (Mindanao Examiner)

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