MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Suspected Abu Sayyaf extremists detonated a pipe bomb that killed a soldier and wounded eight others Tuesday in an attack that was followed by a brief gunbattle in a far-flung town in the southern Philippines.
An army infantry battalion commander, Lt. Col. Cristobal Paolo Perez, said the militants who attacked the military convoy may have been trained by a Malaysian terror suspect, Abu Anas, who has been hiding in the jungle strongholds of the local insurgents.
"My troops returned fire and dismounted from the vehicle to repulse the attackers numbering about seven," Perez said. "The bandits fled after about 15 minutes of intense firefight."
He said the pipe bomb used in Tuesday's attack in Tipo Tipo village on Basilan island was similar to homemade explosives seized by the military in an Abu Sayyaf stronghold on Basilan, where Anas has made bombs and provided bomb-making training to Abu Sayyaf militants.
The Abu Sayyaf, a loose grouping of around 400 Muslim rebels, has turned to ransom kidnappings, extortion and other crimes to survive years of battle setbacks dealt by U.S. military-backed Philippine offensives.
It is one of several Muslim rebel groups operating in the predominantly Christian nation's south. The biggest rebel movement has signed a peace agreement with the government in exchange for broad autonomy, but the Abu Sayyaf have never been part of any negotiations.