MANILA - Philippine security officials have arrested three suspects in the Sept 2 bombing of a night market in President Rodrigo Duterte's home city of Davao that left 15 people dead.
In a news conference on Friday (Oct 7), Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana said the three were likely part of the Maute group of Islamist militants, and the bombing was an attempt to win support from the Islamist State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
It was also meant to derail military offensives against another ISIS-linked group, the small but brutal Abu Sayyaf, in Sulu and Basilan provinces, 1,000km south of the capital Manila.
The suspects, identified as TJ Tagadaya Macabalang, Wendel Apostol Facturan and Musali Mustapha, were arrested on Tuesday (Oct 4).
Mr Lorenzana said the three were all schooled on bomb making by the Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in a police raid in January last year.
Among the evidence gathered was a video of the bombing saved on a mobile phone seized from one of the suspects, who could be heard shouting: "Allahu Akbar!"
Fifteen people were killed, and dozens injured in the attack.
Initial investigations showed the perpetrators used an improvised explosive device made from 60mm and 80mm mortar shells.
The incident prompted Mr Duterte to declare a "state of national emergency on account of lawless violence".