Philippines: The Terrorist Bomb That Wasn't

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October 25, 2007: MILF and government negotiators have overcome some basic disagreements and resumed peace talks. The hang up was over how much southern territory, which now contains a lot of Christian inhabitants, would be considered part of the new "Moslem territory" for the three million Moslems in the south. Christians have been migrating to the Moslem south for decades, and have changed the ethnic and religious make up of once purely Moslem districts. But there's another factor that is slowing down a peace deal with the Islamic separatists; clan feuds. The clans have long provided more government than the government. The clans back up their authority with armed militias. These gunmen have also provided recruits for separatist movements like the MILF, and terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf. It's estimated that, in the last 80 years, there have been over 1,200 clan feuds. Most have been more smoke than fire, with only about 5,000 people killed in all that time. But the violence shuts down traffic and commerce, and off causes hundreds, or thousands, of people to flee their homes. Disarming the clans is going to be more difficult than negotiating peace deals with outfits like the MILF.

October 19, 2007: A large explosion hit a shopping mall near the capital. Eleven were killed and over a hundred injured. At first it was believed to be a gas explosion, but then investigators thought they had found chemical evidence of a bomb. Eventually, it was determined to be a gas explosion. The physical profile of a gas explosion is much different than that of a bomb (which uses much faster moving, or "high", explosives.) American and Australian investigators joined the investigation, and agreed that it looked like a gas leak and explosion in the basement of the mall. The mall owner is fighting this finding, because if it is a gas explosion, and not a terrorist bomb, the mall owner is subject to lawsuits from the victims.

 

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