MANILA, Philippines – A homemade bomb that was likely set off by Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines wounded six people, including two television journalists, the military said.
The blast happened near an area where government troops have been battling Muslim insurgents that broke away from a larger rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which recently signed a peace deal with the government.
The victims were hit by shrapnel from the blast in Maguindanao province's Datu Saudi Ampatuan township, but there were no serious injuries, said regional military spokesman Col. Dickson Hermoso.
Hermoso said a reporter and a cameraman for TV5 network were reporting near the site of an earlier explosion, which caused no casualties, when a second bomb exploded. He said the two were wounded in the legs but were in "good condition."
The explosions came three days after troops captured a rebel stronghold with bomb-making and training facilities. The bombs are typically fashioned from unexploded mortars and rocket-propelled grenades triggered electronically by cell phones.
"That is their signature based on what we have recovered from their camp," Hermoso said of Saturday's bombs. "They just set off bombs in civilian communities and it doesn't matter to them who gets hit, and this is an example."
Since Monday, at least 52 insurgents and one soldier have been killed in the fighting, he said.
The rebels belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement are fighting to establish an independent state and broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has agreed to a deal granting them greater autonomy but not a separate state. The peace talks were concluded last week in Malaysia, which has brokered the talks to end four decades of Muslim rebellion in the southern Philippines.
Aside from the Bangsamoro faction, the government is also battling other rebel groups, including the smaller but more brutal Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for bombings, kidnappings for ransom and beheadings.
President Benigno Aquino III has said the new peace deal would bring the government and the 11,000-strong main Moro rebel group together to pursue outlaws who have long thrived in the conflict.