Attacker at Philippine festival shared fruit to conceal bomb

MANILA, Philippines — A bomber who killed two people and wounded 35 at a town festival in the southern Philippines offered fruit to people in hopes of evading suspicion when he abandoned the bag that also contained the bomb, a Philippine military commander said Wednesday.

Wary residents still alerted police when the man hurriedly left the bag under a parked motorcycle near a night market, Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana told The Associated Press by telephone. Troops chased the man when villagers pointed to him but he fled on a motorcycle that had its engine already running in the chaos caused by the explosion Tuesday night in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat province

"The man offered rambutan and other fruits as a diversion, to make it appear the content of his bag was harmless," Sobejana said. The bomb was made from a water pump, which shattered and blew steel fragments and motorcycle parts toward the night-market crowd, he said.

The death toll rose to two, and the commander said at least one of those wounded in the bombing was in serious condition. The rest of Isulan's founding anniversary festival was canceled, and authorities planned to meet Wednesday to discuss ways to strengthen the town's security, Sobejana said.

The bomber remained at large, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Authorities suspect a small armed group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which is aligned with the Islamic State group.

Philippine troops in the restive south have been on alert in recent weeks based on military intelligence that Muslim militants, suffering setbacks from battles with government forces, planned to carry out bombings in public areas.

A vehicle bombing on July 31 in southern Basilan province killed 11 people, including the suspected foreign militant who drove the vehicle. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility and identified the attacker as Moroccan. However, it cited a greatly inflated military death toll.

Must Read

Tibet to suspend foreign visits until after party...

Sep 25, 2017

A Chinese tourism official says visits by foreigners to Tibet will be suspended until the close of...

China rebukes Zara, Delta for calling Taiwan...

Jan 12, 2018

China rebukes Zara, Delta and Medtronic for calling Taiwan a country on their websites in a new...

Senior US diplomat pitches arms sales in China's...

Feb 5, 2018

The top U.S. diplomat overseeing arms sales said she would be promoting American weaponry at the...

Missing bookseller hits out at Sweden in arranged...

Feb 10, 2018

A detained Swedish bookseller at the center of escalating row between Western governments and...

Airlines obey Beijing's demand to call Taiwan...

May 23, 2018

Airlines caving to Beijing on Taiwan despite White House protests