Authorities in Manila detonated an improvised explosive device Monday that was found in a trash bin near the U.S. Embassy. No one was reported hurt in the incident.
At least two explosions were heard as a bomb disposal unit detonated what Metropolitan Manila police Chief Oscar Albayalde later described as an IED. Authorities were forced to shut a portion of a major roadway where the device was found.
National police chief Director-General Ronald dela Rosa said at a news conference that police believe that Maute militants could be behind an “attempted act of terrorism” that appeared to target the embassy.
The improvised bomb fashioned from an 81-mm mortar round, cellphone, blasting cap and a small battery could have been powerful enough to kill people within 110 yards, police officials said.
"After analysis, we can link it to the Maute because of what happened in Davao, the same (bomb) signature," dela Rosa said.
He added that the Maute group may have wanted to create a diversion after suffering heavy losses in its war against military and police in the south.
Senior Supt. Joel Coronel, the Manila city police chief, said they were checking security cameras in the area and seeking information from at least two eyewitnesses.
The trash bin where the device was found was about 22 yards from the embassy compound.
Philippine troops, backed by bomber aircraft, have recently attacked the Maute militants, including an operation launched last Thursday based on intelligence reports that the group was continuing to make bombs after the Sept. 2 bombing in Davao city, the president's hometown, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
Military officials say that the militants, a loosely organized group that has more than 200 members, were initially affiliated with an Indonesian terror suspect but have lately used black flags and arm and head bands with Islamic State group symbols in a possible attempt to gain support from the Middle East-based group.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.