Police were questioning a suspected member of the Indonesia-based terror network Jemaah Islamiyah after a recent series of bomb blasts that killed seven people and wounded 44 others in the volatile southern Philippines, officials said Friday.
But the 25-year-old Indonesian man, Nicolas Keramis, is not yet a suspect in the bombings, said Chief Superintendent German Doria, the regional police director.
Keramis is being questioned in southern General Santos city, where a bomb explosion on Wednesday night in front of a lottery outlet killed six people and wounded 33 others.
The second blast that followed hours later wounded at least six people near a police outpost in Kidapawan city while the third, made out of an 81mm mortar, rocked Cotabato city, killing a garbage collector and wounding five others, police said.
The bombings came as the Philippines welcomed foreign and economic ministers attending a regional Asian summit in central Cebu city this weekend. Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo has said delegates attending the meetings are not in danger.
"(Army and police investigators) have information that he is a JI member but not necessarily connected with the bombings here. We have no evidence on that yet," Doria told The Associated Press.
Doria said Keramis has been residing in the nearby island of Sarangani and speaks the local dialect. He is visiting General Santos city's Indonesian community of Labangal, where a team of police and army investigators picked him up Friday.
GMA Television quoted a resident as saying the man arrived there four days ago.
Doria said Keramis is an undocumented alien and "that is also one reason we can hold him in coordination with the Bureau of Immigration."
Doria said at least one of the three bombings bore the signature of Islamic militants.
"The Cotabato city bombing bore the signature of the Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf group," Doria said. "We have reason to believe the two terrorist groups are behind the bombing, unless some groups are trying to cash in on their terrorist activities."
General Santos city Mayor Pedro Acheron said investigators were also looking into the possibility the blast in his city stemmed from a grudge over the reported nonpayment of lotto winners, or could be the handiwork of groups opposed to a peace agreement between the government and the main Muslim rebel faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, reports AP.
Forensic investigation showed the improvised bomb used in General Santos was fashioned from Trinotrotoluene or TNT and C4 plastic explosive, Doria said.
He said the same type of explosive was believed used in the Kidapawan city bombing. A grenade safety lever was also found in thatblast, he added.
General Santos, a bustling city on the main southern island of Mindanao, is about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south of Manila and about 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Cebu, the venue for this weekend's Association of Southeast Asian Nation and East Asian summits.