Filipino police bomb experts sift through debris Thursday, May 29, 2008 after a bombing outside the Philippine Air Force base that killed two people and wounded at least 18 others. No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack, but previous bombings in Zamboanga City had been blamed to the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Arthur Abasolo)
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 29, 2008) - Two people were killed and more than a dozen others wounded in a bomb attack Thursday outside a Philippine Air Force base in the southern port city of Zamboanga, police said.
The blast damaged a building in front of the military base, where US soldiers, training local troops in anti-terrorism warfare, maintain a small camp.
US Special Forces have been in Zamboanga City since 2002, but it was not immediately known whether the attack was related to the presence of the soldiers. The blast coincided with sporadic fighting between Muslim rebels and soldiers since last week in nearby Basilan island.
The damaged building also houses the Philippine military mutual fund, Air Material Wing Savings and Loans Association, and office of the US Agency for International Development, including the headquarter of Zamboanga City Rep. Maria Isabelle Climaco.
“We still do not know what type of IED was used in the attack,” said Senior Superintendent Lurimer Detran, the local police chief.
Initial reports said 10 people were wounded in the blast, but eight more had been rushed to hospitals. The explosion damaged the façade of the two-storey building. Police would not say whether the bomb was planted outside the building or left on parked vehicles nearby.
But other reports said the bomb, hidden in a bag, was apparently left outside the building where a crowd of passengers, mostly military dependents, were waiting for a C130 transport plane that would bring them to Manila.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack but the US and other western embassies have warned their citizens not to travel to Zamboanga City because of threats of terrorism and kidnappings.
On Monday, three gunmen kidnapped a trader in Zamboanga City after barging in his office in the village of Tetuan. Zamboanga City has been attacked in the past by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, which bombed civilian targets and in several occasions kidnapped foreigners among them a German canning executive, a Belgian agrarian expert, a Taiwanese matriarch and Chinese traders. (Mindanao Examiner)