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The Mindanao Bombings: The Finger-Pointing Begins

May 31, 2008

Five bombings have rocked Mindanao in just four days with the latest two attacks in the Lanao provinces taking down two more high voltage transmission towers. In all, 23 such towers have been targeted in recent months.

Military authorities are now saying the bombing just outside the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City which killed 2 and injured 23 others, including engineers at a USAID-funded project was the handiwork of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Police investigators are now also reporting that cell phone fragments have been found at the scene of the latest incidents, indicating the sophistication of the improvised explosive devices. It is particularly chilling that such cellphone-triggered bomb detonation techniques first debuted in the urban terror incidents in the war-torn areas in the Middle East.

The MILF has quickly denounced the attacks, denied any involvement, and also sought investigations.

What is playing out here beyond the finger-pointing?

Considered in the context of the earlier skirmishes in Basilan and the withdrawal of the Malaysian peace keepers from Mindanao, are we witnessing a dangerous slide back to wider instability of peace and order in tht southern Philippines.

With the transmission tower bombings plunging as much as half of the country’s second biggest island into darkness, these are disquieting preludes to the headline-making visit of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the United States with the government of the day expected to respond effectively to these disturbing turn of events in Mindanao.

With even the American ambassador being reported as “horror-stricken” by the incident in Zamboanga, the back channel communication lines between Manila and Washington D.C. are sure to be experiencing heavy traffic.

Students are coming back from summer break just two days from now and we cannot but shudder at the thought that the architects of the bombings may have yet other activities on their terror checklist.

God forbid.

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