A series of bomb blasts in the southern Philippines
has killed at least six and injured scores of people. There has been a surge in
violence in the conflict-ridden region.
The first bomb exploded a few
hundred meters from a Roman Catholic church in Jolo, the capital of Sulu
province, Tuesday morning. Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, a Philippine
military spokesman, says the bomb was hidden in a parked
"Some people were able to observe that it seems the
motorcycle had wires protruding," he said. "They got suspicious and they called
for police assistance. Unfortunately, the device exploded as they were
responding to the call."
A few hours later, a bomb exploded in the
commercial district of Iligan City. A bomb also destroyed an electricity
transmission tower outside the city, leaving a portion of Mindanao island
Tuesday's blasts are the latest in a surge in violence
this week in the region. The military has been on high alert since Sunday's
explosion outside a church in Cotabato city that killed five
Security officials have yet to determine who is behind the
attacks. A handful of Muslim rebel and terrorist groups operate in the southern
Philippines, including the regional terrorist organization, Jemaah Islamiyah.
Major General Juancho Saban, head of a military task force in Sulu, said
they are looking into a possible collaboration between Jemaah Islamiyah and
members of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the extremist Abu
Sayyaf. He says Jemaah Islamiyah militants come to the region and train local
rebels in bomb-making.
JI has been blamed for deadly bombings in
Southeast Asia, including attacks in Bali, Indonesia in 2002 and 2005.
The Philippine president's office says the recent violent incidents
underscore the need to continue engaging with the MILF. But formal peace talks
between the government and the insurgents have been stalled for a
The Philippine population is predominately Christian, but the
southern islands have a large Muslim community. For more than three decades,
insurgent groups have fought for a Muslim homeland in the south.