Philippine blasts probe focuses on Shia imam
MANILA: Police here believe a Shia Muslim cleric was the likely target of explosions that killed two people here, an official said yesterday, rejecting Islamic State claims of involvement.
Six others were injured when two explosions rocked the office of the imam, Nasser Abinal, in the capital’s busy Quiapo district on Saturday.
Oscar Albayalde, head of police forces here, said the bomb was apparently intended for Abinal, who is also government tax officer for the Manila region.
He was not at the office at the time.
“He said there were threats to his life in the past,” Albayalde said.
The bomb was carried in a package by a hired delivery man who handed it over to an aide of Abinal just before it went off, killing them both.
As police were searching the blast site late on Saturday, another explosion rocked the area, possibly from a second bomb planted earlier, said Albayalde.
“This has nothing to do with terrorism. There is no indication that this was done by a terror group, local or foreign,” he said.
IS claimed it staged the explosion.
“Five Shias were killed and six others wounded in a bomb blast by IS fighters in the centre of Manila,” said a statement from Amaq, IS’s propaganda arm.
Albayalde said this was just the IS practice of taking credit for such incidents.
IS has carried out attacks in other countries on Shia sites and events.
But Albayalde said the attack seemed to target Abinal, adding that it may be for personal reasons, his work or his religion.
Tension remained high after the blasts, with police cordoning off the area again yesterday after a suspicious bag was spotted.
A bomb disposal robot later established it was a false alarm.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella urged the public to stay alert, but avoid spreading “unverified” news that may cause panic. AFP