MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine military says troops have killed two bomb couriers at an army checkpoint before the suspected Muslim militants could detonate the explosives in a crowded area in the restive south.
Brig. Cirilito Sobejana says one of the two local militants opened fire at soldiers who flagged them down at a checkpoint Wednesday, sparking a brief gunbattle in M’lang town in North Cotabato province.
Sobejana says police defused a bomb made from a 60 mm mortar round that was carried by the two suspects along with a pistol.
He says they belonged to a rebel group called the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Military officials say it and other small groups aligned with the Islamic State group have turned to bombings to project they’re still a force to reckon with