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Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Rebels 'planted Jakarta bomb'
Secuity in the southern Philippines
Security is also tighter in the southern Philippines
A splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) - the main separatist group in the southern Philippines - has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's bomb blast in Jakarta.

The explosion killed two people and wounded 20 others, including Philippine ambassador Leonides Caday.

Maybe it's a could be a way of deflecting our attention

Philippine Defence Secretary
The leader of the splinter group told the Manila Times that the attack had been designed to draw attention to the largely Muslim island of Mindanao.

But Philippine Defence Secretary Orlando Mercado said the claim could be a trick to throw investigators off the scent.

"Maybe it's a ruse because as of the moment, we have nothing definitive. It could be a way of deflecting our attention," he said.

MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu also denied the existence of a splinter group, saying this was "black propaganda".

Ambassador's residence damaged in the blast
The blast damaged the ambassador's residence
He told a local radio station that MILF targets were limited to "the military and their allies".

Philippine officials said on Wednesday that Mr Caday believed the attack was "personal".

But on Thursday Mr Caday - who is recuperating from two broken legs - issued a statement from his hospital bed denying he knew who the culprits were.

His statement adds further uncertainty as to who was behind the blast.

In Jakarta, Philippine Consul General Narcio Castendra said there were no clear suspects, and no threats had been received.

Caday in the blast
Caday will take weeks to recover from broken legs
Some Indonesian officials, including President Abdurrahman Wahid, have blamed Muslim separatists in the Philippines.

However, some Philippine officials and Indonesian observers are also raising the possibility that the blast could be linked with unrest in Indonesia.

The Philippine national police chief, General Panfilo Lacson, has told officers to watch out for Indonesian separatists in the country.

Indonesian authorities found an unusually high number of Filipinos had entered Jakarta in the last couple of weeks, Philippine officials said.

Laying flowers
Locals laid flowers at the site of the blast
The Philippine Government Deputy Press Secretary, Mike Toledo, said the list of arrivals had been sent to intelligence agents, who would check them against files of terrorists and criminals.

An Indonesian police team was also sent to Manila to establish whether the Jakarta blast was linked to the series of bombings in the Philippines in the last few months.

Mr Toledo said a team of US explosive experts was on its way to Indonesia to help determine what type of bomb was used in the blast.

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See also:

01 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid lays blame for Jakarta bomb
02 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Swordsmen of God at war
01 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hostage drama highlights bitter conflict
27 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Jolo rebels free German journalist
01 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Philippine bombs kill three
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