Recent Manila Bombings Not the Handiwork of Islamic State: Duterte

Felipe Villamor
2017.05.22
Manila
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170522_PH_BOMBINGS_1000.jpg A bomb explosion victim lies dead on the ground in Quiapo, Manila, May 7, 2017.
AFP

President Rodrigo Duterte has denied that Islamic State militants were behind twin bombings that left two people dead near a mosque in Manila early this month, the presidential palace said Monday.

Duterte said the May 6 bombings in Quiapo district of Manila were a result of a blood feud between warring two warring families.

“Certainly not an ISIS thing. One is that if it were the handiwork of IS, they wouldn’t have attacked Quiapo. It could be somewhere else but definitely not Quiapo, where most of our Muslim brothers live,” he said, using two different acronyms for the group.

“But there is bad blood amongst the groups of persons there. It could be a rido,” he said, using a local term for “blood feud” between two warring Muslim families.

The president, who embarked on a four-day official trip to Russia Monday, made the comments during the launch late Saturday of a government radio program, the palace said.

He said he had been in close contact with the Philippine National Police investigators, who assured him that it was not terrorism.

“I do not like IS. But I do not like to attribute things to them if they were not behind it,” he said, dismissing the feud as over “money matters.”

Concerns

Duterte’s statement comes amid continuing concerns that Muslim militants with links to the IS could have infiltrated Manila and other urban sites to launch attacks.

Last month, the police killed nine Abu Sayyaf militants in firefights in the central island of Bohol, which is popular among tourists. Two others, including a police woman who allegedly has switched sides, have been arrested.

The gunmen, blamed for a series of atrocities including kidnappings and bombings, allegedly were on a mission to abduct foreigners. They had beheaded a German hostage this year and two Canadians last year.

While a faction of the Abu Sayyaf has pledged allegiance to the IS, local authorities have been quick to denounce the group as nothing more than well-armed bandits.

Police had earlier announced the arrest of one suspect in the Quiapo bombing. The suspect has been identified as Abel Macaraya, who launched the attack after his brother-in-law was beaten by two men, police said.

A local Shiite Muslim cleric apparently did not act on the family’s complaint, prompting Macaraya to carry out the bombings. The cleric was unhurt because he wasn’t at his office when the attack occurred.

The police also said that the home-made bombs used in the attacks were crudely made, and not sophisticated enough like the ones used by IS-linked militants.

Dennis Santos in Davao City contributed to this report.

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