06/16/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Jolo: bomb at cathedral, security measures tightened

Santosh Digal
A bomb squad safely removed and detonated an explosive device placed near the church, in the city's main square. It's not yet known who placed the bomb and why. In Sibugay, the body has been found of one of the Islamic rebels implicated in the kidnapping of Fr Giancarlo Bossi.

Jolo (AsiaNews) - Security has been tightened in Jolo, in the province of Sulu, the theatre of a bloody war between the Philippine army and Islamic rebel groups, after the discovery of a bomb in the central square of the city, near the cathedral, on Saturday evening.  According to a local radio station, a bomb squad removed the device and detonated it, and police forces have opened an investigation to discover who may have placed the bomb and why.

In the meantime, a dissident leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, accused of participating in the kidnapping of Fr Giancarlo Bossi, a PIME missionary kidnapped in Payao in June of 2007, has been killed in the area of Sibugay, in Zamboanga.  Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawer Jr, an army spokesman, says commander Akiddin Akiddin Abdusalam was killed in an ambush around four o'clock Saturday afternoon in the city of Kabansalan.

The bloody event brings to mind the dramatic days of the kidnapping of the Italian missionary, who spent 39 days in the hands of his kidnappers. The government paid a high price for his liberation, losing a number of men in the operation.  On July 10 of last year, 14 members of the Marine corps died in an ambush set up by Islamic rebels in the province of Basilan: 10 of them were beheaded.

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