Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Bomb in van kills 11 at checkpoint in Philippine south

Bomb in van kills 11 at checkpoint in Philippine south

Gerry Besana, spokesman of Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Mindanao Command, said one soldier and five militia men died in the vehicle bomb attack.

ISIS, through a statement carried by its news agency, claimed responsibility for the Tuesday "suicide bombing" attack.

The country's south remains under martial law, which Duterte declared a year ago to deal with a five-month siege by Islamic State-linked militants in Marawi that left more than 1,200 mostly militants dead, displaced hundreds of thousands of residents and sparked fears that the extremist group was gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia following battlefield defeats in Syria and Iraq.

"The personnel who had contact with the driver also died in this incident", Arevalo said.

The military believes the van was planning to transport improvised explosive devices (IEDs) into Lamitan city on Basilan island to carry out terror attacks.

The powerful blast killed at least one soldier and several militia troops on the outskirts of the mainly Christian city of Lamitan, which is on the predominantly Muslim island of Basilan, he added.

A bomb exploded in a van in the restive southern Philippines on Tuesday, killing 11 people at a military checkpoint in what militant group Islamic State called a suicide attack for which it claimed responsibility.

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"We can just imagine the tragedy that this would bring to the people of Basilan had we not stopped them at the checkpoint", he said.

"Although we are not discounting them entirely, all of these are just pure speculation at this time and are now the subject of an investigation being conducted by a joint team of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police)", he said.

The Philippine government condemned the terrorist attack, calling it a "war crime".

Basilan is a no-go area for most Filipinos and Western countries typically warn citizens to stay away because of the penetration of Abu Sayyaf and fierce military offensives against its fighters.

"That could have been (the target)", he said on ABS-CBN television.

The five-month siege killed 1,200 people and destroyed much of the center of the city, which Mr. Duterte said the militants planned to turn into the capital of a southeast Asian caliphate.

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