Rubber tapper, seven relatives dead in Mindanao blast

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A farmer and seven other people were killed in an explosion in the southern Philippines after he brought home a mortar shell he had found at work, police said Thursday.

The explosion occurred Wednesday at a rubber plantation in Sirawai, a town about 800 kilometres (500 miles) south of Manila that was a former battleground of government forces and Islamic militants in the 1990s, authorities said.

Rubber tapper Marcelo Antogan, 21, and seven relatives and neighbours were killed while five others were wounded when the shell blew up as he tinkered with it, apparently not knowing what it was, a police report said.

“He must have thought it contained gold somehow,” police officer Almacer Tabalang told AFP by telephone, adding parts of the elongated shell had a golden sheen.

Tabalang said the region was a 1990s battleground between government forces and the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic militant group that later pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

He said it was possible the mortar shell was dropped by the combatants at the time, and that farmers who worked at the rubber plantation were unfamiliar with these types of munitions.

( Agence France-Presse )