Since US global terrorism alert, at least five explosions have rocked Mindanao

An intercepted communication between Al Qaeda leaders prompted the closure of embassies in North Africa and Middle East over the weekend and the issuance of a global travel alert warning Americans against going to these regions, in light of what is suspected as planned attacks by the terrorist group this month.

Just a few days after the US issued the alert, a spate of bombings tore through various provinces in Mindanao, at the helm of ongoing peace talks between government and the country's largest Muslim secessionist group.

The blasts raised speculations that these could not possibly be mere isolated incidents but part of the larger scheme of global terrorism.

However, the police, the military, and even President Aquino himself have said they have not yet made such a connection.

Previous reports show that since the raised US alert against terrorism, there have been five bomb explosions in just four days. At least 17 have died, mainly from the two major blasts in Cotabato and Cagayan de Oro cities.

Meanwhile, there have been two false bomb threats, sowing terror among the public in the midst of increasing violence in the southern region.

TIMELINE:

July 26, 2013

Before midnight, a bomb shattered the carefree atmosphere of a bistro in Cagayan de Oro city, immediately killing six people, including a provincial board member of Misamis Oriental. The number of dead rose to eight as some of the injured succumbed to their wounds in the hospital.

July 29, 2013

An explosion rocked the town of Kabacan, North Cotabato when an unknown improvised explosive device went off inside the state-owned University of Southern Mindanao.

August 2, 2013

The United States issued a worldwide travel alert warning Americans that Al Qaeda may be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.

August 4, 2013

At least 21 US embassies and consulates closed, prompted by the same intercepted intelligence report.

August 5, 2013

Just 10 days after the CDO blast, a car bomb detonated on a busy highway in Cotabato City, as a city administrator aboard a bulletproof van passed through the area. The explosion killed nine persons, including a nine-year-old child, but the supposed target was unharmed.

August 6, 2013

President Aquino assured the public that there was no indicator that the recent deadly bombings in Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato cities were linked to the global Al Qaeda threat.

August 7, 2013

The United Kingdom renewed its travel warning against their citizens' going to Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago following the Cotabato blast and ongoing terrorist activities.

At dawn, an explosion rocked a waiting area in front of a pawnshop in Midsayap town, North Cotabato. No one was reported hurt.

Later in the day, an improvised bomb exploded along the road of Barangay Nabundas, Shariff Saydona, Mustapha town, Maguindanao, injuring seven soldiers. The military has tagged the

breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as behind the attack.

Meanwhile, a false bomb threat forced the evacuation of the staff of the Court of Appeals in Manila.

Shortly past 5 p.m., a bomb exploded on Lintukan bridge at the border of Datu Piang and Datu Salibo in Maguindanao. The BIFF was also tagged in the attack.

August 8, 2013

At least six soldiers were hurt in an blast from an improvised explosive that rocked a barangay in Agusan del Sur Thursday dawn. The army suspected the New People's Army behind the attacks.

Later the day, President Aquino said three groups may be behind the spate of bombings, the BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf group among them. He did not name the third.

In a separate interview, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said politics and terrorism at the hands of bomb-for-hire groups may be the cause of the bombings.

Meanwhile, in the afternoon, residents of Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur suspected a car left overnight in a mall parking lot of containing a bomb. The police later said the car did not carry any explosives. — BM, GMA News

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