Police Kill Suspected Bomb Maker in Southern Philippines

Mark Navales
Cotabato, Philippines

Philippine police on Tuesday killed a suspected bomb maker in a gunfight in the southern city of Davao, but his comrades escaped, officials said.

Police were still determining the man’s affiliation, but the southern Philippines is a known hotbed of Muslim and communist guerrilla groups.

Police said a black pick-up truck carrying several armed men was spotted at dawn outside Davao, triggering a car chase.

One of the men riding in the back of the vehicle fell to the ground as the chase approached an area on the outskirts of the city. He drew his firearm, prompting the officers to open fire, Chief Inspector Oliver Navales said.

The gunman was shot in different parts of the body, Navales said. The other suspects managed to escape.

Police recovered a backpack from the slain suspect that contained a gun, ammunition and bomb-making materials, including a 60-millimeter mortar round, blasting caps and a fragmentation grenade, Navales said.

Muslim militants operating in the region have been known to use mortars in making improvised explosives.

In September last year, 15 people were killed and dozens of others were wounded when a home-made bomb ripped through a night market in Davao, in what security officials later blamed on a local Muslim group that had been trying to attract the attention of the extremist group Islamic State.

Nine people were arrested after that bombing. All of them belonged to the previously unheard-of Maute group, a small band of militants based in Lanao del Sur, a predominantly Muslim province on Mindanao island.

The group has also been blamed for an attempted bombing outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila in November.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who was the longtime mayor of Davao before becoming the country’s leader last year, has ordered the armed forces and the military to crush the Maute group.

Last week, three Indonesians and a Malaysian were among 37 suspected members of the Maute group who were killed in a Philippine military strike on a jungle camp in Lanao del Sur.


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