World

Shi'ite cleric was the target in Manila

MANILA: Philippine police believe a Shi'ite Muslim cleric was the likely target of explosions that killed two people in Manila, an official said yesterday, rejecting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claims of involvement.

Six others were injured when two explosions rocked the office of the imam, Mr Nasser Abinal, in the capital's busy Quiapo district on Saturday.

Mr Oscar Albayalde, head of police forces in the capital, said the bomb was apparently intended for Mr Abinal, who is also government tax officer for the Manila region. He was not at the office at the time.

"He admitted there were threats to his life in the past" while being questioned by police, Mr Albayalde told AFP.

The bomb was carried in a package by a hired delivery man, who handed it over to an aide of Mr Abinal just before it went off, killing them both.

As police were searching the blast site late on Saturday, another explosion rocked the area, possibly from a second bomb planted earlier, said Mr Albayalde. He said: "This has nothing to do with terrorism. There is no indication that this was done by a terror group, local or foreign."

ISIS has claimed it staged the explosion.

Mr Albayalde said this was just the ISIS custom of taking credit for any such incidents.

Tension remained high after the blasts, with police cordoning off the area again yesterday after a suspicious bag was spotted.

A bomb disposal robot later established it was a false alarm. - AFP

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