Philippines troops fire cannon at Islamist militant positions in Mindanao.

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Explosion comes day before President Duterte visits Marawi

Philippines army currently fighting militants in the region

CNN  — 

Nine members of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s security team have been injured after their convoy was hit by an explosive device.

One person is in a critical condition after the blast in Marawi, in the southern island of Mindanao. President Duterte was not with the convoy.

“We assure our brave men and women who put their lives on the line for duty and country that their Commander-in-Chief will never abandon them in their time of need,” Duterte’s spokesman Martin Andanar told CNN.

Bomb disposal officers inspect an improvised explosive device in Manila on November 28.

Militant attacks

The team were part of a 50-person advance convoy preparing for Duterte’s planned visit to Marawi on Wednesday, Colonel Gene Ponio told CNN Philippines.

Duterte’s visit will go ahead, Andanar told CNN.

Ponio said the incident may be a diversionary tactic by the Maute group, an Islamist militant organization based in Mindanao currently facing a military offensive after it laid siege to Butig in Lanao Del Sur last week.

The group has been linked to a bombing in Duterte’s hometown of Davao in September that left 14 people dead.

This week, an improvised explosive device was found near the US embassy in Manila. Police said it was of the same design as that used in the Davao attack.

Military personnel stand guard in front of a church in Davao City, in the southern island of Mindanao on September 4, 2016, two days after a bomb explosion at a night market that left 14 people dead and 60 wounded.
Philippines police September 4 were searching for three people wanted for questioning over the bombing of a night market in President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown blamed on an Islamic militant group. / AFP / MANMAN DEJETO        (Photo credit should read MANMAN DEJETO/AFP/Getty Images)
Philippines reacts to market explosion
01:56 - Source: CNN

Terror threat

Terrorism has been a persistent problem in the southern Philippines, where Maute and militant group Abu Sayyaf are based.

Concerns have been raised that ISIS could be expanding its influence in the area, which has been identified as a potential wilayat, or province, of the Islamic State by its leaders.

The Philippines is the only place in southeast Asia where ISIS-linked groups have any control of territory, according to Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.

“There’s a concern that as things get more difficult in Syria and Iraq, ISIS leadership will make a decision to send a superstar person in exercise leadership there,” she said.