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New bomb attack foiled in southern Philippine Island

ZAMBOANGA, December 29, 2010 (AFP) – Security forces foiled an attempted bombing on Wednesday in the southern Philippine island that was hit by a blast on Christmas day, officials said.

Two men left behind a mortar shell near the provincial capital building in Jolo island after being chased away by police, said regional army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang.

“The men fled on motorcycle after they were chased by provincial guards and policemen,” said Cabangbang.

He said the mortar shell was probably meant to be part of a bomb that would have been detonated in “another terrorist activity.”

The identities of the two men are yet to be determined, he added.

Last week, a bomb exploded inside a church during Christmas day mass in Jolo, wounding six people.

Police suspect that the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group, which has been linked to the al-Qaeda network, was behind the church attack.

The Abu Sayyaf have long used the largely-Muslim island of Jolo as a base for kidnappings and bombings that often target Christians who make up the majority of Filipinos.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino had earlier warned that the Christmas day blast could be part of a wider Abu Sayyaf “terror plot.”

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