Reuters / Landov

Bus bomb in Philippines kills 9

Nine dead in blast aboard a bus in Maramag town in the strife-torn Mindanao island, officials say

Nine people have been killed after a bomb exploded aboard a bus in the southern Philippines on Tuesday, a military spokesman said.

The bus was traveling through the town of Maramag in the strife-torn island of Mindanao when the bomb went off, said Major Christian Uy.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspects include separatists opposed to a March peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) — the largest rebel group in Mindanao. 

According to the deal, MILF would stop fighting in exchange for more power in the south of the largely Roman Catholic nation. In September, President Benigno Aquino III proposed a plan to give MILF the ability to run its own government in the southern Mindanao region. 

Despite progress on the autonomous zone, scores of splinter groups that have rejected the peace deal have continued to strike government forces and other communities in Mindanao.

Abu Sayyaf, which split from MILF in the early 1990s, is the most notorious breakaway separatist group. Although mainly known for kidnappings for ransom, they have also admitted responsibility for bombings, including an attack on a ferry in February 2004 that killed more than 100 passengers.

The four-decade conflict between separatists and central government forces in the southern Philippines is one of the world’s bloodiest, with a death toll estimated to have surpassed 150,000.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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