PHILIPPINES links bus carnage to MUSLIM terrorists

MUSLIM TERRORISTS from the remote southern Philippines may have been behind a bus bomb attack in the nation’s financial hub that killed five people.

AFP–A mortar shell triggered by a mobile phone led to Tuesday’s explosion that ripped apart a bus travelling along one of Manila’s main roads. “A Nokia cellphone is the device they used to trigger the explosion. It acts like a command-detonated explosive,” the security adviser, Cesar Garcia, said on ABS-CBN television.

“The fact that… the device used was an improvised explosive device similar to the ones used by terrorist organisations in the southern Philippines raises the likelihood it was a terrorist attack.”

While Garcia said it was too early to say exactly who was behind the blast, he pointed out the attack was very similar to a bus bombing on the same road in Manila that killed four people and injured 36 others on February 14, 2005.

The Abu Sayyaf, a small group of Islamic militants blamed for the nation’s worst terrorist attacks and a string of kidnappings, claimed credit for the 2005 attack, although it has remained silent following Tuesday’s explosion.

Garcia emphasised that militant groups such as the Abu Sayyaf always wanted to attack Manila. “Metro Manila has always been a long-term aspirational target of the organisations operating in the southern Philippines,” Garcia said.

Aquino said on Tuesday after the attack that his government had been warned last year that unnamed Muslim militants had been planning to stage a bomb attack in Manila.

The southern Philippines has long been an area of conflict, with the Muslim population there seeking a state independent from the rest of the mainly Christian country.

The 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is set to restart peace talks shortly with the Philippine government, has waged a decades-old rebellion in the south that has claimed an estimated 150,000 lives.

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