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Moslem Rebels Attack Wedding, Killing Nine

September 8, 1986

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines (AP) _ Moslem rebels threw a hand grenade at a wedding inside a crowded Roman Catholic church on southern Mindanao island, killing nine people and wounding more than 100 others, including the bride, officials said.

Two of the rebels, reportedly from a faction that broke with Moslem separatists who held peace talks with the government, were killed by militiamen in a gunbattle following the attack Sunday in Salvador, 500 miles southeast of Manila, Army Col Raul Aquino said.

More than 50 of the wounded were in serious condition, Lourdes Loyola, a Manila-based Philippine National Red Cross director, said in a telephone interview.

In an apparently related incident, Moslem insurgents Sunday blasted a transmission tower of the government’s National Power Corp., causing a massive blackout in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Aquino said.

The two incidents occurred on Mindanao island in Lanao del Norte province, about 40 miles southwest of Cagayan de Oro.

The bombings came two days after President Corazon Aquino and Nur Misuari, chairman of the insurgent Moro National Liberation Front, held peace talks on Jolo island, off Mindanao, and agreed to negotiate a solution to the 14-year- old Moslem separatist rebellion in the south.

Col. Aquino, commander of the 21st Army Brigade in charge of army units in Lanao del Norte, said he had received intelligence reports that the rebels responsible for the two incidents belonged to a breakaway faction of the front.

Aquino, who is not related to the president, said the attackers wanted ″to get attention for themselves because they were not included in the peace talks.″

The military says the Moro National Liberation Front has split into three factions, with Misuari the chairman of the main rebel body.

Aquino said a preliminary investigation indicated that two rebels slipped into the church during the wedding ceremony and threw the grenades toward the altar.

The attackers fled and joined three other rebels outside the church, and pursuing militiamen fatally shot two of them, Aquino said.

He said one of the slain rebels was a guerrilla commander and identified him as Manluba Tandayao.

The Manila newspaper Philippines Daily Inquirer, quoting other military sources, said the priest had just finished reading the gospel when the first explosion ripped through the church. The priest reportedly was wounded.

Another daily, the Manila Bulletin, said many of the injured were children who were trampled in a rush for the church doors.

The provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur and the cities of Pagadian, Dipolog and Dapitan remained without power at noon today following the bombing of the transmission tower in Magsaysay village, the Philippine News Agency reported.

In September 1985, 30 people were killed when unidentified men described by the military as terrorists bombed a movie house.

Update hourly