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Bomb plot in Sultan Kudarat foiled–military

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By Joel Guinto, Associated Press
First Posted 11:53:00 07/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The military has claimed to have foiled a plot to bomb a transport terminal in Sultan Kudarat province with the arrest of an alleged self-confessed Moro Islamic Liberation Front member (MILF) on Sunday, the military spokesman in the region said.

Intelligence operatives arrested the suspect, identified as Arman Mano, in Talayan town, Maguindanao province at around 12:15 a.m. on Sunday, Major Armand Rico, spokesman of the Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), told reporters on Monday.

An improvised explosive device, composed of an 81-millimeter mortar, with a Nokia 3315 cellular phone as triggering device, was seized from the suspect, said Rico, who could not immediately provide details on Mano’s arrest, saying follow-up operations are ongoing.

During interrogation, Rico said Mano admitted to being a member of the MILF’s bomb squad or Special Operations Group (SOG) and that he was planning to use the bomb, which he assembled, to attack a passenger van terminal in Isulan town, Sultan Kudarat, near the Maguindanao provincial border.

Rico said the foiled attack could have been motivated by extortion or the delay in formal peace talks between the government and the MILF.

Security forces launched follow-up operations against other suspected members of the group, Rico said.

The police chief in Zamboanga city, where an ordnance team detonated a powerful bomb on Saturday, said suspects included militants belonging to the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and the MILF, a group engaged in Malaysian-brokered peace talks with the Philippine government.

Saturday’s bomb was packed with about 2.2 pounds (a kilogram) of nails for added lethal effect, Laurimer Detran said.

Police also recovered two unexploded homemade bombs Friday under a delivery truck by a worker at a soft drinks company in the city, he said.

The foiled bombings might have been intended to disrupt sporadic military assaults against the Abu Sayyaf and the MILF, which have collaborated on nearby Basilan Island, Detran said. They also may have been part of an attempt by the militants to extort badly needed funds from local companies, he said.

Security has been tight in Zamboanga, a predominantly Christian city of more than 750,000 people. A May bomb attack killed two people and wounded 19 others outside an air force base.

Police have accused MILF guerrillas for that attack. The rebels have denied any involvement.

The government’s peace talks with the rebels, who have been fighting for Muslim self-rule in the south, stalled last year, raising fears of renewed fighting. The Abu Sayyaf, considered a terrorist group by the US and Philippine governments, has suffered from battle setbacks but continues to plot attacks, the military says.

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-07-07T04:35:25+00:00UTC07bUTCMon, 07 Jul 2008 04:35:25 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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