Abu Sayyaf likely behind Zamboanga city bomb: police
() - August 22, 2007 - 12:40pm

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AFP) - The al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group are the likely suspects behind a bombing in the southern Philippines that left 14 people injured, a police official said Wednesday.

"They are a suspect," said Chief Superintendent Jaime Karingal.

He said Tuesday night's bomb in Zamboanga city could have been intended to divert government resources from the continuing military operations on nearby Jolo and Basilan island, where troops are pursuing Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.

"We have long been preparing for diversions," said Karingal in Manila.

Police in Zamboanga meanwhile continued to sift for clues at the bomb site in a public square and have found parts of a clock that was used as a timer and fragments of a magnet. Ammonium nitrate was the explosive used, they said.

Security forces in the mixed Christian-Muslim city have gone on alert for further bombings, particularly at churches and mosques, airports and bus terminals and other sites where people congregate.

The military has stepped up offensives in the Abu Sayyaf strongholds of Basilan and Jolo in recent weeks after some 14 Marines were killed on July 10 and 26 soldiers slain in early August by the Abu Sayyaf and their allies.

Sixteen troops were killed with some 30 Abu Sayyaf dead or wounded in an attack on an Abu Sayyaf camp in Basilan on Saturday.

Brigadier General Juancho Sabban, head of the anti-terror task force in Basilan, said "All forces are in place. Its just a matter of locating the target."

ABU SAYYAF ABU SAYYAF MUSLIM BASILAN BASILAN AND JOLO BRIGADIER GENERAL JUANCHO SABBAN CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT JAIME KARINGAL JOLO AND BASILAN JUSTIFY ZAMBOANGA
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