A bomb blast at a market in the southern Philippines has claimed the lives of at least a dozen people, including the suspected bomber. The mayor of the town where the blast occurred said the Muslim group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility. Authorities earlier blamed the Muslim separatist group Moro Islamic Libertion Front, or MILF, which denied any involvement.
The bomb went off during the busy traders market day in the town of Koronadal, on the southern island of Mindinao.
The bomb was fashioned from a mortar, and reportedly went off just after being placed on the crowded street. It apparently killed the suspected bomber and an accomplice, as well as innocent bystanders.
Colonel Agustin Dema-ala of the Philippine army told reporters that at least two women vendors and three passersby died at the scene, with a further seven people succumbing to injuries in the hospital. At least two dozen others were injured.
An attack last week, to which the MILF admitted, killed 34 people, including 10 civilians. That bombing led the government to scrap a plan to restart peace talks with the rebels.
The government has also linked the MILF to a series of bombings that led to power outages in the southern provinces, as well as explosions in the southern city of Davao that killed 38 people during March and April.
The MILF has been waging a 25-year campaign for an Islamic state in the southern regions of the Philippines, and has consistently received support from Muslim groups abroad, including the Organization of Islamic Conferences, the OIC.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in her weekly radio address, said a detailed report would be delivered to the OIC, showing that the MILF is not engaged in a noble struggle, but rather in what she called the murder of innocent civilians.