A car bomb attack has claimed the lives of at least 10 people at a military checkpoint in the restive southern Philippines.
The explosion occurred at a Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) detachment — which is staffed by military and civilian personnel — in the island province of Basilan on Tuesday, moments after forces stopped a van for a check.
A military official said the car bomb didn’t hit its target, though.
“We don’t know what the target was, but it (the bomb) was prematurely detonated,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mon Almodovar, commander of the scout ranger unit in the area.
A soldier, five militiamen, and four civilians, including a mother and her child, lost their lives in the attack.
The blast also left an unspecified number of people injured.
Basilan is a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, an outfit that has pledged allegiance to the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.
Basilan Governor Jim Saliman said he had received reports that Abu Sayyaf was behind the blast, without elaborating.
Police and the Armed Forces have opened an investigation into the attack.
Abu Sayyaf is known for its years of militancy against the Philippine government. The group, blacklisted by both Manila and Western governments, has carried out some high-profile ransom kidnappings, beheadings, bombings, and other forms of violence in areas mostly in the south of the island country.
The attack came as President Rodrigo Duterte offered peace talks with several Abu Sayyaf factions during his visit to a neighboring island in the weekend.
His offer came two days after he signed a law that would allow minority Muslims living in the country’s south to create a new autonomous area with its own political and economic powers.