Philippine blast wounds 7-year-old, 3 others | world | Hindustan Times
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Philippine blast wounds 7-year-old, 3 others

A crude bomb exploded prematurely in the southern Philippines, wounding a 7-year-old girl, another passer-by and two suspected Muslim rebels who allegedly carried the device.

world Updated: Oct 31, 2008 09:21 IST

A crude bomb exploded prematurely in the southern Philippines, wounding a 7-year-old girl, another passer-by and two suspected Muslim rebels who allegedly carried the device, officials said on Friday.

The suspects were on a motorcycle when the bomb, made from a 81 mm mortar shell, accidentally went off late on Thursday in front of a restaurant in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao province scene of sporadic clashes between army troops and rebels, the military said. The 7-year-old girl and a woman were wounded by shrapnel and taken to a hospital, said military spokesman Maj Randolph Cabangbang. The two would-be bombers also were hurt and placed in police custody while an investigation continued, he said. The province is a stronghold of Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels, who have been fighting for self-rule in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation's south for decades.

Fresh violence erupted two months ago when the Supreme Court blocked the signing of a proposed accord on an expanded Muslim autonomous region, prompting three rebel commanders to go on a deadly rampage in several predominantly Christian communities. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the arrest of the commanders and suspended Malaysian-brokered peace talks with the rebel group. More than 100 civilians have been killed and about 375,000 displaced in the fighting.

In the days before Thursday's explosion, government troops had disarmed three other homemade bombs at a bus depot in Kabacan town in neighboring North Cotabato province. Army spokesman Lt Col Julieto Ando blamed the rebels for planting the bombs. The rebels did not comment immediately but in the past have denied such accusations.

Meanwhile, residents in nearby Shariff Kabunsuan province were awakened early on Friday by a series of powerful explosions. The military said that a fire, possibly caused by a defective cannon shell, triggered explosives in an ammunition dump inside an army camp, but there were no casualties.