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LEAD: Indonesians suspected in Davao port blast.

MANILA, April 7 Kyodo


Five Indonesian Muslim fundamentalists are being sought for their alleged involvement in last Wednesday's blast in the southern Philippine port city of Davao that killed 16 people and wounded at least 50 others, police said Monday.

National Police intelligence director Chief Supt. Robert Delfin said the Indonesians are suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian Muslim militant network with alleged links to the al-Qaida terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden.

Information from foreign intelligence sources and counterpart officials reveal this may be the same group behind the twin bombings in Bali in October last year that killed 189 people, Delfin said.

Australian bomb experts that investigated the Bali blasts assisted local police in investigating the Davao bombing over the weekend.

Final results may determine whether the same Indonesian suspects were also involved in the bombing at Davao airport last month that killed 22 people, including an American missionary, and wounded several others, Delfin said.

Delfin said the suspects may be hiding in the outskirts of Davao Province or other provinces on the main southern island of Mindanao.

He said the Indonesians are also thought to be linked with a group associated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the main Muslim separatist group in the Philippines.

But police director for the southern Mindanao, Chief Supt. Isidro Lapena, told a press conference in Davao that MILF involvement in Wednesday's explosion at the Sasa wharf area of Davao has yet to be determined.

He added, however, that the MILF is thought to have had a hand in the bombing at Davao's airport.

He said it is hoped that an official metallurgical examination can show whether the two attacks are linked.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo warned that all foreign nationals involved in terrorist conspiracies would be expelled or arrested and urged the MILF to prove its non-involvement in the Davao bombings.

Davao, a prime tourist destination, was placed under a ''state of lawless violence'' by Arroyo after the second bomb attack.

Police and military personnel now surround the city even as the government plans to deploy more.

Yet the government remains hopeful it can push an ultimate peace deal with the MILF after exploratory talks between both sides in Malaysia last month yielded a common commitment to end hostilities.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Apr 14, 2003
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