Islamic militant attacks leave 15 dead in Philippines

AFP

AFP – Wednesday, April 14

ISABELA, Philippines (AFP) – – Al Qaeda-linked militants in police uniforms set off bombs and fired at civilians on a strife-torn Philippine island Tuesday in violence that left 15 people dead, officials said.

The gunmen detonated two home-made bombs near a church and a school sports grandstand in Isabela city on Basilan island, in the latest show of force by the Abu Sayyaf network, which is blamed for the nation's worst terrorist attacks.

“I think (the attack) is meant to create havoc…. Definitely it falls under terrorism,” Major General Juancho Sabban, head of the Philippine Marines, told reporters in Manila.

Isabela city mayor Cherry Akbar told reporters that 15 people were confirmed dead, including five militants who were apparently killed by one of their own bomb blasts.

Six civilians were also killed in the explosions, while three soldiers and a policeman were killed in gun battles with the militants, Akbar said.

At least 25 militants wearing police uniforms were involved in the attacks, according to the region's military chief, Lieutenant General Ben Dolorfino.

However Dolorfino said the Abu Sayyaf's main goal may have actually been to kidnap a high-profile person in Isabela, and that the explosions could have been intended as a diversion. Related article: Abu Sayyaf an enduring threat in Philippines.

“It looks like they were planning to kidnap someone but they did not expect our troops to react immediately,” Dolorfino said, adding he did not know the target of the suspected abduction plot.

The militants sprayed bullets at terrified civilians scrambling for safety, and engaged in a gun battle with security forces on the outskirts of Isabela that lasted for at least three hours, according to military chiefs.

via Islamic militant attacks leave 15 dead in Philippines – Yahoo! Philippines News.

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