Bomb de­fused near US em­bassy in Philip­pines

The Myanmar Times - - World -

PHILIP­PINE po­lice de­fused a bomb found in a rub­bish bin near the US em­bassy in Manila yes­ter­day, au­thor­i­ties said, with of­fi­cials blam­ing Is­lamic mil­i­tants for what they called an at­tempted ter­ror­ist act.

An im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice com­posed of a cell­phone, blast­ing cap, nine-volt bat­tery and 81-mil­lime­tre mor­tar bomb was found by a street sweeper about 200 me­tres from the em­bassy.

Na­tional po­lice chief Ron­ald dela Rosa said Is­lamic mil­i­tants in the south­ern Philip­pines who have pledged al­le­giance to the Is­lamic State (IS) group were prob­a­bly be­hind the in­ci­dent.

“This is an at­tempted act of ter­ror­ism,” Mr Dela Rosa said.

“Be­cause of an on­go­ing po­lice/mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion there, (the mil­i­tants) have many ca­su­al­ties. We can the­o­rise that this is a diver­sion to loosen our op­er­a­tions.”

The mil­i­tary be­gan an op­er­a­tion on Novem­ber 24 against the Maute group, which staged a deadly bomb­ing in Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s home town in the city of Davao that killed 15 peo­ple in Septem­ber.

The mil­i­tants are holed up in an aban­doned govern­ment build­ing in the mainly Mus­lim ru­ral town of Butig on Min­danao is­land.

Troops have been firing ar­tillery to flush them out.

Mr Dela Rosa said he be­lieved the Maute gang or the An­sar Khi­lafa Philip­pines, an­other south­ern-based group sym­pa­thetic to IS, left the bomb near the US em­bassy.

Po­lice said the bomb was left early yes­ter­day by a taxi pas­sen­ger, who stopped and threw the de­vice into a trash bin. A street sweeper later found the pack­age and re­ported it to po­lice, of­fi­cials added.

The bomb could have caused in­jury or dam­age within a 100-me­tre ra­dius, po­lice said.

Mr Dela Rosa said the bomb had the same de­sign as the de­vice the Maute group used in the Davao at­tack in Min­danao.

“Un­less we get hard ev­i­dence to the con­trary, by anal­y­sis we can the­o­rise this in­ci­dent to be linked to the Maute be­cause of what hap­pened in Davao,” he said.

The Davao bomb­ing prompted Mr Duterte to put the na­tion un­der a “state of emer­gency” that led to tighter se­cu­rity mea­sures.

The south­ern Philip­pines is home to var­i­ous ex­trem­ist groups and a four-decade Mus­lim sep­a­ratist re­volt that left more than 100,000 peo­ple dead, ac­cord­ing to govern­ment es­ti­mates.

Manila po­lice chief Joel Coronel said au­thor­i­ties were co­or­di­nat­ing with the US em­bassy to de­ter­mine if the mis­sion was the tar­get of an at­tempted bomb­ing. –

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