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Abu Sayyaf militants, who are notorious for bombings, kidnappings and beheadings, have staged deadly bomb attacks in metropolitan Manila in the past. In 2004, they detonated a bomb that set off an inferno and killed 116 people aboard a ferry in Manila Bay in the country’s worst terrorist attack.

U.S.-backed Philippine military offensives have considerably weakened the Abu Sayyaf, which is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations, but the group remains a key national security threat.

The Abu Sayyaf has harbored Indonesians from the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah in its jungle strongholds on southern Jolo islands. The Jemaah Islamiyah was blamed for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people, mostly Australians and other foreign tourists, in Southeast Asia’s worst terrorist attack.