Two killed by bomb in strifetorn Southern Philippines

NNA – Two people were killed in a bomb blast in the Southern Philippines on Tuesday, the military said, the latest in a series of violent incidents in the strife-torn region in barely a week.

Two men riding a motorcycle, and believed to be carrying the bomb, were killed when it exploded in Pikit on the island of Mindanao, according to Joan Petinglay, regional military spokeswoman.

“Initial reports were that the two persons were carrying the bomb,” she told AFP, adding that the government was investigating the men’s identities and possible motive.

A female bystander was also wounded in the blast, she said.

The explosion came after a car bomb killed two people and wounded 50 others on Friday in the southern port city of Zamboanga, and a bloody clash with militants on Sunday left 44 policemen dead in Mamasapano town, only about 22 kilometers from Pikit.

The policemen had been hunting “high-value targets” including Zulkifli bin Hir, a Malaysian militant suspected of being behind the 2002 Bali bombings.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas later said there was “high likelihood” that Zulkifli, one of the United States’s most wanted militants with a $5 million bounty on his head, was killed in the operation.

However Petinglay said it was as yet unclear if the latest blast was linked to either of the recent incidents.

The southern Philippines has long been wracked by violence carried out by Muslim separatist guerrillas, Al-Qaida-linked extremists and gangs demanding extortion. —AFP