Saturday, August 27, 2005

RoP Bombs Ferry in the Philippines

From, At least 30 wounded in Philippine ferry blast
ZAMBOANGA : At least 30 people including children were wounded in a suspected bomb attack on a ferry in an area of the southern Philippines plagued by Muslim insurgents, officials said Sunday.

The explosion went off while passengers were boarding the Dona Ramona ferry at the town of Lamitan on Basilan island, sparking scenes of chaos.

Nick Castro, an aide to Lamitan's mayor, said at least 19 people were initially reported wounded but vice mayor Jimmy Adong said health authorities had confirmed 24 hurt with the figure expected to rise.

Castro said the explosion appeared to have been caused by a home-made bomb although authorities were investigating.

The ferry had been just about to leave for its first morning trip to the nearby port city of Zamboanga.

The area was "in chaos", provincial spokesman Cris Puno said, with those wounded suffering severe burns caused by the blast.

A thick scent of gunpowder hung in the air, he added.

"There were children among those wounded," he said, declining to speculate when asked who could be behind the latest bombing.

The blast at Lamitan port - built using US aid money and opened by the American charge d'affaires Daryl Johnson just days ago - came after Muslim militants injured 26 people in a bomb attack on a parked vehicle and inn on August 26.

Security forces have been on heightened alert for more bombings after three suspects in the Zamboanga blast from the Abu Sayyaf group, a small gang of Islamic militants which once enjoyed support from Al-Qaeda, were freed on bail.

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