MLANG, Philippines — A bomb exploded at the entrance of a town market packed with New Year’s Eve shoppers in the restive southern Philippines, killing four people and wounding at least 30 others, officials said.
Police said they have no immediate suspects in the second such attack in two months, but Muslim rebels opposed to a peace deal with the government have been blamed for similar bombings in the past.
Most of the victims were shoppers buying fruits and horns used for noise-making to greet the new year, said police chief Joan Resurreccion of Mlang township in North Cotabato province.
Last month, a bomb blast at a billiard hall in the same town killed three people.
“This is not a happy new year for us people in Mlang,” said Mayor Joselito Pinol.
One suspect has been arrested in the previous bombing, but no group has claimed responsibility for either blasts.
Minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation’s south have been fighting for self-rule for decades. In March, the largest rebel group signed an autonomy deal with the government, but a breakaway faction called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters was of several vowing to continue fighting.
Authorities accused the rebels of carrying out a bus bombing that killed at least 10 people early this month in a province farther north. The rebels have denied responsibility.