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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Hunt Supects in Bombings

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines -- Philippine investigators struggled to find a breakthrough Monday in solving a wave of deadly bombings -- mostly blamed on al-Qaida-linked Muslim extremists -- that have hurt the economy and put much of the country on edge.

A 13-year-old boy provided police with a sketchy description of a suspect in the latest attack: a blast that killed a soldier and injured 18 others near a popular Roman Catholic landmark Sunday night in the southern city of Zamboanga.

The teenager told police that a young man in a black shirt and jeans parked a bicycle loaded with explosives near the front gate at Fort Pilar, home to a Virgin Mary shrine and an open-air area where Mass is celebrated.

The attack was one of five deadly bombings that have rocked the country this month, killing 21 people. Four of them were in the southern Philippines, while one blew up a bus last Friday in Quezon City in metropolitan Manila, killing two and injuring 20.

After analyzing bomb fragments and debris from the bus attack, police concluded that the device was made of TNT and tetryl -- explosives that are readily available in the Philippines for mining and quarrying, said Restituto Mosqueda, senior superintendent of the national police's crime laboratory group.

Police and security officials have yet to provide any evidence that they are closing in on the suspects in the string of bombings. They named a long list of possible attackers: the communist New People's Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Muslim militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

Jemaah Islamiyah is suspected in the Oct. 12 nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia, that killed more than 180 people and injured 300.

In an interview with ANC television, National Security Adviser Roilo Golez declined to discuss the possibility that several militant groups might be working together.

But Antonio Clarito, operations chief of Zamboanga City police, said he suspected that the Abu Sayyaf was behind Sunday's bombing.