At least six people were killed and more than 40 wounded by twin bomb blasts in the southern Philippines, in what officials described as co-ordinated attacks by al Qa'eda-linked militants. The first bomb exploded in a commercial area on Jolo island, killing six people and wounding around 30 others, police said. It was followed around two hours later by a blast next to a parked military patrol jeep in Iligan city.
The second blast wounded at least 10 people, including three soldiers, the military said. Jolo is a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf Muslim rebels and local anti-terror task force chief Major Gen Juancho Sabban was quick to point the finger at the militant group. "This is a signature bomb attack of the Abu Sayyaf," Gen Sabban said, speaking on local radio. He said that the bomb was hidden beneath the saddle of a motorcycle that was parked outside a downtown hardware store.
The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for a string of bombings and kidnappings, most recently of three Red Cross workers on the island in January. They are still holding one of them, an Italian, hostage. Regional police spokesman Supt Bayani Gucela said six civilians were killed in the Jolo blast, while at least 30 others were wounded. Police in Iligan said at least 10 people were wounded there. "The (Jolo) commercial district area was packed with people when the explosion happened," Gen Sabban said on local radio. "All our doctors and nurses are already there in the area taking care of the victims."
Police disarmed another bomb near Jolo's Mount Carmel Catholic cathedral while a third suspicious package was also found and safely detonated. "We have cordoned off the area and (are) setting up checkpoints," Gen Sabban said. Today's bombings came just two days after a bomb exploded outside a Roman Catholic cathedral in Cotabato city, also in the south, on Sunday. * AFP