Army troops patrol Isabela City in the southern Philippine province of Basilan in this undated photo. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 25, 2011) – Two people were killed and over a dozen others wounded in a gas explosion Saturday inside a restaurant in the southern Filipino province of Basilan, police said.
Police said the blast occurred in the kitchen of Mon’s Eatery in downtown Isabela City. The explosion sparked a fire that engulfed the restaurant and that the charred bodies of the victims had been recovered.
“Initial report said the blast may have come from a cooking gas cylinder at the kitchen of the restaurant. Two people had died from the blast and more than a dozen others are wounded, including a solider and a policeman,” Senior Superintendent Alexis Lineses, the provincial police commander, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
Lineses said those wounded were rushed to hospitals in Isabela. “We are still investigating this incident,” he said.
Authorities are in heightened alert in Basilan because of threats of Abu Sayyaf attacks and kidnappings. Basilan, one of the five provinces of the Muslim autonomous region, is a stronghold of the militant group Abu Sayyaf which has been linked by the military and the police to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya.
In April, a powerful improvised explosive went off inside a lodging house in Basilan’s Lamitan City and security forces detonated three more bombs planted in various sites in Basilan.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding a Chinese-Filipino trader Larry Tam delos Santos who was kidnapped in December in Isabela City and a 16-year old student kidnapped in Lamitan. (Mindanao Examiner)