AFP calls for vigilance after attacks in Basilan province

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: The military urged citizens to stay vigilant following the series of bombings and attacks in the restive province of Basilan, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

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Just over the weekend, two improvised bomb explosions injured a government soldier and a driver of Tuburan town Mayor Dorie Kallahal, according to the Western Mindanao Command.

It said the explosions occurred just as the military was conducting a humanitarian outreach mission. It was unclear whether Abu Sayyaf rebels or other armed groups were involved in the attack.

Government soldiers also recovered a third improvised explosive in the area, said Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, an army spokeswoman. She said despite the bombings the medical mission pushed through which benefited over 500 villagers.

She said the local mayor was also present during the event and was unhurt from the bombings. Petinglay said the injured were rushed to hospital. She said the two bombs went off minutes apart and also hit the mayor’s pickup truck.

Major General Carlito Galvez, the regional military commander, also praised Kallahal who is actively involved in peace and development efforts in the town. He also appealed to villagers to stay vigilant following the twin bombings.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the bombings

Last week, a grenade explosion also tore a hole on the roof of an abandoned hospital building in Lamitan City also in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

There were no reports of casualties and police said the attack could be the handiwork of Abu Sayyaf rebels. Lamitan had been attacked many times in the past by the Abu Sayyaf. The motive of the attack is still unknown, but rebels had previously targeted civilians in Basilan.

Basilan is a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. The Abu Sayyaf has been fighting for a separate Islamic state in the country.

AL JACINTO

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