Bombing foiled in southern Philippines

Cotabato City, Philippines  - Police on Saturday foiled a bombing in the southern Philippines with the discovery of an improvised explosive outside a church, a town police chief said.

Chief Inspector Franklin Anito said the improvised bomb was recovered at dawn in front of a local Christian church in Kabacan town in North Cotabato province, 960 kilometres south of Manila.

Passers-by alerted the police about a suspicious plastic bag left outside the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) church in downtown Kabacan, Anito said.

"Bomb experts immediately went to the area and discovered the explosive device," he said. "The device was successfully defused."

It was the third homemade bomb recovered in Kabacan since Monday, Anito said.

Kabacan is one of the areas where fierce fighting between Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas and government troops erupted during the past two months.

The clashes intensified in August after the Supreme Court stopped an MILF-government deal that would have expanded the existing autonomous Muslim region on the strife-torn southern island of Mindanao.

More than 200 people were killed and more than 500,000 displaced at the height of the clashes. (dpa)