Philippines: Bomb blast rocks Cotabato while conversations are ongoing with MILF

Map of the Philippines with Cotabato highlighted

Map of the Philippines with Cotabato highlighted. Image via Wikipedia

A bomb exploded yesterday evening at the residence of a gun store owner in the southern Philippines, where a homemade bomb killed two people and wounded 10 others four days ago, officials said today.

Lawyer Cynthia Guani-Sayadi, city administrator, said the explosion occurred around 8 p.m. Saturday outside the house of JV Martinez along De Mazenod Street in the southern city of Cotabato occurred but no casualty was reported.

“The explosive was left outside Martinez residence. He was not around that time,” said Sayadi.

Martinez is the owner of a gun store along the city’s Quezon Avenue where a bomb went off Tuesday killing two people and wounding 10 others.

“He (Martinez) already gave his side to the police. He told investigators that he has no idea why his shop was attacked. But we know that he has several grudges,” said Sayadi.

via Bomb blast rocks Cotabato – Home » Other Sections » Breaking News.

Nonetheless,  Philippine President Benigno Aquino is in talks with MILF’s leader Murad Ibrahim. We have to remember that MILF’s objective is to create an Islamic state in Mindanao.

Philippines: Government to fund Muslim education

President-elect Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquin...

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The government has announced the release of 251.6 million pesos (US$5.9 million) in funding to implement the madrasah education program.

The funds, released through the Department of Education, were in line with President Benigno Aquino’s commitment to improve the standard of education in the country as a tool for peace and development, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement this week.

Education is the central strategy of the Aquino administration for investing in the people and enhancing their opportunity to gain meaningful employment,” Abad said.

He added that the government also needed to “mainstream and institutionalize madrasah education” as part of the national system of basic education.

The program has three components: Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) in public schools, ALIVE for out-of-school Muslim youths and adults, and assistance to private madaris (schools for higher religious education).

Of the funds released, 173.25 million pesos will go to the office of the education secretary while 78.35 million pesos will be released directly to school division offices to cover the allowances of  Muslim teachers.

via Government to fund Muslim education – ucanews.com.

Philippines: tourists kidnapped by “group of armed men”

Map of Zamboanga Penninsula showing the locati...

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(Translation: T&P)

A group of gunmen have kidnapped three tourists, including an American woman and her son aged 14, in Zamboanga City, located on the Philippine island of Tictabón (south), as reported by the local police chief, Edwin Ocampo.

Around 3.00 am on Tuesday (21.00 pm on Monday in Spain) 14 gunmen arrived in the city in two boats, disarmed the guards and abducted Gerfa Lunsmann Yeatts, 50 years old, his son Kevin Eric, and his nephew Romnick Jackaria, 19.

Ocampo has indicated that Lunsmanns and her family were vacationing on the island to visit relatives. Apparently, they planned to return to the U.S. this week. Her husband, a German citizen, has been informed of the kidnapping.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, however, several Muslim separatist Islamist cells and are present on the island. “We’re still trying to track down the gunmen,” Ocampo acknowledged.

The Islamist group Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are two of the usual actors in the area. The first, linked to Al Qaeda has dozens of people captive in Basilan and Jolo islands.

via Informativos Telecinco.com – Un grupo de hombres armados secuestra a tres turistas en Filipinas.

Indonesia: Why Bashir’s sentence does not end the Jihadi threat

An interesting comment on this important sentence, though as the article reveals it is far from ending the Jihadi threat in Indonesia:

Today’s verdict, is, in some ways a victory for Indonesia. Since the bold and bloody Bali Bombings of 2002, the archipelago nation has been under tremendous pressure to tackle terrorism. In 2003, with support from the United States and Australia, Indonesia formed Detachment 88, a counter-terror squad staffed by the elite of the country’s police and special forces. The unit has earned acclaim for its success building an extensive intelligence network and conducting undercover operations. They’ve arrested, detained or killed hundreds of leaders and foot soldiers. They’ve also made modest strides in de-radicalization. “You want to know why Indonesia has done well fighting terrorism? We have no Guantánamo prisons,” psychologist Sarlito Wirawan Sarwono, who instructs Detachment 88 officers in interrogation tactics told TIME last year. “Our police understand the terrorists’ psyches.”

To an extent, sure. But the threat persists. Even as cells are shuttered, or clerics tried, new groups emerge. Maria Ressa, an expert on radical Islam in Indonesia likens it to the spread of a virus: The ‘jihadi virus’ grew out of the crucible of Afghanistan, she says, and was carried to Southeast Asia by veterans who trained and taught in the Philippines and elsewhere.  Their ideology passed, friend to friend, family to family, changing as it spread. “The virus is resilient,” she told me recently. “It mutates.

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Nobel Peace Prize ceremony boycott grows due to Chinese pressure

Free Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned for 11 years due to his participation in the document called Chapter 08, in which several people supported democracy and the end to the “one-party”

… China and 18 other countries have decided not to be represented “for various reasons.” It noted that number has tripled from six weeks ago.

The countries joining China in its boycott include Russia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco and the Philippines.

The 58 countries who have embassies in Oslo were invited to attend.

China strongly objected to Liu’s win last October and levelled more criticism Tuesday, calling members of the Nobel committee “clowns” who are “interfering in China’s judicial affairs.”

The 54-year-old writer and academic was jailed in December 2009 to serve an 11-year term for subversion. He was detained just days before the publication of what has turned out to be an explosive political document, Charter 8, which he co-wrote.

Charter 08 calls for an end to one-party rule and the introduction of democratic reforms in China. It was signed, via the internet, by thousands of people, some of them Communist Party officials.

via CBC News – World – Nobel Peace Prize ceremony boycott grows.

Philippines: Hundreds of families flee as fighting breaks out in S. Philippines

Hundreds of terrified families fled in the southern Philippines as fighting between government security forces and Muslim rebels erupted, an Army official said on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Domingo Gobway, a battalion commander, said militias and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front clashed on Saturday afternoon in the town of Pikit in North Cotabato.

The fierce gun battle lasted for five hours, prompting civilians, about 500 families, fled their homes in the village of Macabual for fear of their safety.

Gobway said no one was reportedly hurt or killed on the government side.

The fighting occurred as peace talks between Manila and MILF rebels remained stalled.

The MILF has been fighting government troops for decades in a bid to establish a self-rule Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic country.

via Hundreds of families flee as fighting breaks out in S. Philippines | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online.

In 2008, the Philippines’ Govt authorised the modification of the Constitution to grant MILF what they wanted. But the modification was stopped due to heavy opposition from citizens who didn’t want that constitutional change to be made.

Philippines: bomb on bus kills 10, wound 9

That is the final toll.Although no one has claimed responsibility, police believes the responsible of the attack are members of gang linked to Muslim terrorists from the South, called Al-Khobar.

A bomb ripped through a passenger bus Thursday in the southern Philippines, killing at least eight people and wounding 10 in an attack authorities blamed on an extortion gang with links to Muslim militants.

The bus was traveling with more than 50 passengers when the powerful blast shook the rear part of the vehicle from the overhead compartment, police Chief Superintendent Gil Meneses said. The force of the blast was so strong it decapitated two of the victims, he said.

The wounded were brought to hospitals near Matalam township in North Cotabato province. Police and army units interviewed survivors and combed through the twisted metal trying to extract the injured, Meneses said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. The south of the Philippines is home to kidnappers, extortion gangs and a decades-old Muslim insurgency.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said authorities suspect the Al-Khobar extortion gang in the attack, saying the bus company involved in the bombing had been targeted for extortion in the past.

Al-Khobar is the most notorious of the region’s extortion gangs, and authorities say it is made up of criminals and former Muslim rebels who have been blamed for attacking business establishments refusing to pay their ransom demands. The group is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

Source.

For more information on Al-Khobar’s activity, click here.