World Bulletin / News Desk
Police say that they are searching for four "persons of interest" in connection with a powerful blast in the southern Philippines that killed 14 people and wounded 71 others.
The state-run Philippines News Agency on Monday quoted Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa as saying that they have the "physical identities" of the four based on witnesses accounts before the explosion, and that they are now proceeding with legal aspects such as their names and possible links with extremist groups.
He refused, however, to give further details stressing it may jeopardize the ongoing investigation into the bombing at a night market late Friday in southern Davao City -- where President Rodrigo Duterte served 22 years as mayor.
Although the blast was initially attributed to the Abu Sayyaf, the police chief has raised the possibility that drug lords may having paid the ISIL-linked group to carry out the attack, saying both groups are under pressure from the government's war on extremism and illegal drugs.
"Aside from the Abu Sayyaf which we suspect did it to ease the pressure from the ongoing military and police operations against them, there's still the other angle that we are looking into which is narco-extremism," ABS CBN News quoted Dela Rosa as saying.
"It's still there. We are not totally discounting that."
Dela Rosa said it is also possible that drug lords are colluding with the Abu Sayyaf militants.
"These Abu Sayyaf, they kidnap people for money. They can also bomb people for money. It's all about money for them," the police chief said.
Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte -- the president’s daughter -- has offered a 2 million-peso ($43,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of the bombers.
Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Rami has said that the attack is a sign of unity of groups that have pledged their allegiance to ISIL, and warned of similar strikes.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.
It is one of two militant groups in the south who have pledged allegiance to ISIL, prompting fears during the stalling of a peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Eylül 2016, 14:42