Sunday 17 December 2017

Duterte blames boxing bout bombing on drugs feud

The bombs went off at a boxing tournament at Hilongos
The bombs went off at a boxing tournament at Hilongos

President Rodrigo Duterte has blamed a drug feud over a bombing that wounded at least 32 people watching an amateur boxing match in the central Philippines.

Two of three 81mm mortar rounds were remotely set off by mobile phone as people watched a boxing match in Leyte province's Hilongos town as part of its annual Catholic fiesta celebrations, said senior inspector Jenyzen Enciso, the provincial police spokeswoman.

At least 10 of those injured are children, aged between seven and 15.

Mr Duterte did not explain the basis for his suspicions over the incident, which comes during a brutal crackdown against illegal drugs which began when he took office in June.

More than 6,000 drug suspects have been killed, and thousands more arrested, raising concerns of injustices and extra-judicial killings.

The military said in a statement, citing a police assessment, that a drug suspect arrested by Hilongos policemen last October may have retaliated by carrying out the bombings.

"The explosion could have been perpetrated by her allies in retaliation against the Hilongos (police)," the military said.

The military said investigators were trying to determine the others who were responsible. Mr Enciso said police recovered an 81mm mortar cartridge and a mobile phone apparently used to detonate the home-made bombs.

Philippine forces have been placed on alert amid sporadic offensives in the country's south against Muslim militants, including Abu Sayyaf gunmen and armed sympathisers of the Islamic State group who have targeted the capital, Manila, and other urban centres in the past.

Communist guerrillas also have a presence in Leyte province, about 380 miles south-east of Manila, but there was no immediate indication they or Muslim militants were involved.

Mr Duterte, whose administration is holding peace talks with the communist rebels, said it is unlikely the Maoist guerrillas were involved.

"Overall, I would say it has nothing to do with the left or with the communists," Mr Duterte said.


Press Association

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