TITLE=PHILIPPINES BOMB (L-ONLY)
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INTRO: A bomb explosion has ripped through a crowded
public market on the main southern Philippine island
of Mindanao, killing at least two people and injuring
33. As Konrad Muller reports from Manila, the prime
suspect is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is
fighting for an independent Islamic state in the
TEXT: The lethal blast exploded in Kabacan town Sunday
morning, on the main shopping day for this
predominantly Christian town, located almost one-
thousand kilometers south of Manila.
Military sources say the device was improvised from an
81 millimeter mortar shell. It was powerful. Many of
the wounded are hospitalized and in serious condition.
The military also
says the country's leading Muslim separatist group,
the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is suspected of
being the perpetrator. An MILF spokesman said his
group was not responsible because it would not want to
injure so many civilians.
However, only last week, the Islamic Front's Chairman,
Hashim Salamat, called on Muslims in the troubled
south to embark upon a jihad, or struggle, against the
central government. The Front's main
base had earlier been abandoned to the Philippine army
after several days of intense aerial and artillery
Since April, hostilities have escalated between the
military and the Front, estimated to have some 15-
thousand guerrillas. More than
half a million people have been displaced and dozens
left dead, in the worst fighting seen in the southern
Philippines since the 1970's.
Manila has repeatedly accused the rebels of terror.
Arrest warrants were issued Tuesday, against members
of the Front's political leadership over eight
bombings that killed one person and injured 41 in
nearby General Santos City last month. The Front
typically has rejected accusations of terrorism.
16-Jul-2000 05:50 AM EDT (16-Jul-2000 0950 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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