More than a dozen wounded in southern Philippines explosions

Attacks rock two towns and a city on island of Mindanao, wounding at least 17 people including soldiers.

Philippines map

Explosions have rocked two towns and a city in the southern Philippines, wounding at least 17 people including soldiers, a military official said.

A hand grenade was thrown into a military truck patrolling Cotabato City in the southern island of Mindanao, with eight soldiers and four civilians sustaining injuries from the bomb’s shrapnel.

It was quickly followed by blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) in the nearby town of Libungan, wounding five civilians with one in “serious” condition, regional military spokesperson Major Arvin Encinas said on Sunday.

Another explosion took place in the neighbouring town in Maguindanao, although police were still gathering information on whether there were casualties.

No groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks, which happened as the government moved to lift  martial law on the island.

“We do not discount the possibility that Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters BIFF and Daesh-inspired groups are behind this,” Encinas told AFP news agency, referring to fighters with links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS).

There are several conflicts in the Philippines, including a separatist uprising in Mindanao that has killed some 100,000 people.

Though a landmark peace deal with the largest of the rebel groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was sealed in 2019, a number of factions were not included.

Those groups include the ISIL-aligned BIFF and Abu Sayyaf, a kidnap-for-ransom gang that has been behind some of the nation’s deadliest attacks.

Two people were killed and 35 wounded in Cotabato in December last year after a bomb went off outside a shopping mall, which was also blamed on ISIL-linked groups.

ISIL has stepped up a strategy of absorbing existing armed groups around the world as its “caliphate” crumbled in the Middle East.

In May 2017, hundreds of pro-ISIL gunmen seized the city of Marawi, sparking a five-month battle that left more than 1,000 people dead.

Source: AFP