10/11/2006, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Mindanao: 12 victims in attack with Muslim imprint

The bomb went off during a feast and also injured 42 people. A few hours earlier, another explosive injured six people in Tacurong. According to military sources, the attacks are Muslim retaliation for the arrest of the wife of a local terrorist leader.  

Makilala (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Muslim militants let off a bomb last night in the south of the Philippines, killing 12 people and injuring 42. The blast blew apart a stall selling alcoholic drinks on occasion of the 52nd anniversary of the foundation of Makilala, a township in the heart of Mindanao province 950km away from Manila. A few hours earlier, another bomb planted in the city of Tacurong – also in Mindanao – injured six people.

Representatives of the Filipino army said the two blasts were a reprisal attack for last week's arrest of Istiada Binti Oemar Sovie, the wife of Dulmatin, one of the most sought after terrorists in the area. The secret services believe the terrorist is hidden in Jolo, in the heart of the southern archipelago, together with another fugitive of Indonesian nationality. The two men are said to be protected by Abu Sayyaf (the "spade bearers", a local arm of al-Qaeda).

This group most likely perpetrated the attacks: confirmation for this hypothesis came from some features of unexploded parts of the bombs that reveal the typical manufacture of the Filipino rebels.

In the meantime, despite the high level of alert of the armed forces, the embassies of the United States, Australia and Great Britain have warned their respective governments of the danger of travelling to Mindanao and invited their co-citizens not to venture to the area, which was under high risk of attack.

The southern archipelago has been torn apart by around 40 years of rebellion by Muslim guerrillas who are asking for formal independence from Manila. The government started to concede partial autonomy to the two main rebel groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front, but it has reiterated several times that it has no intention of negotiating with groups made up of terrorists.

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