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Nine dead in Philippines bomb

Scene of the bombing in Koronadal, Philippines, Saturday

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KORONADAL, Philippines (CNN) -- An explosion in a public market in the southern Philippine city of Koronadal killed nine people and wounded 42 others Saturday, the military said.

Col. Renoir Pascua, a spokesman for the Southern command, said earlier reports from the military of at least 12 dead proved wrong.

A spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines said there has been no claim of responsibility.

Col. Danilo Lucero said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim separatist group in the Philippines, "could have been involved in it, but we have no conclusion yet."

He described the bomb as an improvised explosive device.

Koronadal is in the province of Cotabato in the southern Philippines.

Muslim insurgents and guerilla groups, including MILF and Abu Sayyaf -- which has ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network -- have been fighting the government for decades, mainly in the country's south.

The United States has been assisting the Philippine military in its fight against Abu Sayyaf.

Fighting has escalated since the Philippine military attacked a key MILF stronghold three weeks ago.

The military blames MILF for a string of recent terrorist attacks. In early April, a bomb attack in a Davao wharf area killed six people, and in early March, 21 people were killed in a bomb blast outside Davao's airport.

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