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Six killed in New Year’s Eve bomb blast in Philippines

(AFP) / 1 January 2014

The improvised device exploded near a church in the town of Sumisip on Basilan.

A man is treated for a severe hand injury after being injured in a firecracker explosion following the raucous celebration to welcome the New Year on Jan.1, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. AP

Six revellers were killed and six others wounded in a bomb attack on a New Year’s Eve party on a volatile southern Philippine island, the military said on Wednesday.

The improvised device exploded near a church in the town of Sumisip on Basilan, local army spokesman Captain Jefferson Somera said.

Troops and police who responded to the emergency said the party was taking place at the residence of Manuel Casineros, a pro-government militiaman volunteer and driver for the church.

Police said the motive of the attack was not clear, although Casineros apparently had been helping authorities in protecting rubber plantation workers from extortion by armed gangs, including the Abu Sayyaf.

Last year, Abu Sayyaf gunmen ambushed a convoy carrying plantation workers, killing six and wounding 22 in the same area.

The government has said the group had degenerated into a crime gang with no clear ideology over the years, and its ranks falling to just over a few hundred.

Authorities said an Abu Sayyaf faction on a nearby island was believed to still hold a number of foreign as well as Filipino hostages, including two European birdwatchers and a Japanese treasure hunter.

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