Bomb Blasts Injure Six in Southern Philippines

COTABATO ~ Six people were wounded in two separate bomb attacks that struck the southern Philippine city of Cotabato within 24 hours, police said on Wednesday.

In the first explosion, an improvised bomb tore through a hotel late on Tuesday, injuring the manager and an employee and destroying four rooms, said city police chief Senior Superintendent Willie Dangane.

It was not clear who was behind the attack, but hotel manager Dagadas Pantao told police from his hospital bed that the room where the bomb was left had been occupied by a guest who did not register his name with hotel staff last Saturday.

On Wednesday afternoon, another bomb exploded in front of a bingo hall, wounding at least four people, said Dangane.

Military and police ordnance experts said the first bomb could have been fashioned from a 60-millimetre mortar rigged to a timing device, a contraption commonly used by Islamic militants in the south of the country.

It was unclear if the two bombings were related, Dangane said.

Also on Wednesday, the military defused an improvised bomb planted in a market in a town near Cotabato, an army spokesman said.

The bomb was likely planted by Muslim separatist rebels in retaliation for losses suffered in recent fighting, said local military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ponce.

Muslim separatist rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are known to operate in areas just outside the city, and have been sporadically engaged in fierce gunbattles with troops since August.

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