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Philippines Bomb Attack Wounds 12



A bomb attack blamed on Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines has wounded at least 12 people.

Two explosions Saturday on Mindanao island appeared to be aimed at government soldiers, who have been battling a breakaway rebel faction for the past week. Military officials said the roadside bombs, detonated 45 minutes apart, wounded six soldiers and six civilians, including two television journalists.

Most of the victims were hit by shrapnel from the bombs in Maguindanao province. None of their injuries are believed to be life-threatening.

Fighting in the area between government forces and members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters has killed more than 50 people since Monday.

The Bangsamoro group, said to be linked to the al-Qaida terror network, has broken away from the main rebel group in the southern Philippines, the Moro Liberation Front. The split followed MILF's acceptance of a peace deal with the central government in Manila that pledged greater autonomy for the southern separatists.

The agreement signed one week ago in Kuala Lumpur is a move toward ending four decades of bloody conflict in the southern Philippines. The Philippines is a mostly Roman Catholic nation, but many Muslims live in the southern provinces. Years of fighting in the area have killed an estimated 120,000 people and crippled the area's economic development.

Apart from the Moro and Bangsamoro activists, Philippine authorities face strong opposition from a number of other, smaller rebel groups, including the Abu Sayyaf group, which has carried out several notorious and brutal attacks in the past.

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