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Zamboanga blast ‘isolated,’ city ‘safe’–military

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:05:00 05/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The bomb explosion outside an Air Force base in Zamboanga City on Thursday that killed two persons and wounded several others was an “isolated” incident, and the city remains “safe and secure,” a military commander in the region said.

Nonetheless, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lieutenant General Alexander Yano ordered troops in the area to “strengthen” security measures, said Colonel Darwin Guerra, chief of the military’s Task Force Zamboanga.

Yano and Teodoro presided over a meeting of the Zamboanga City peace and order council hours after the blast. A joint military and police coordinating conference was set later Friday to “synchronize” their efforts, Guerra said in a phone interview.

“Zamboanga City is still safe and secured. This is an isolated incident,” Guerra said, adding there were no intelligence reports pointing to similar attacks.

“We have to strengthen our security; this is routine. We have a coordinating conference with the PNP [Philippine National Police] this [Friday] afternoon,” he said.

Initial investigation by police and military explosives experts showed that an improvised bomb triggered through a cellular phone was the cause of the explosion outside the Edwin Andrews Airbase, he said.

While Guerra acknowledged that mobile phone-triggered explosives have been used by the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in the past, he refused to speculate on who could be behind Thursday’s explosion pending the results of an investigation.

“This is an act of terrorism. But it’s hard [to name suspects]. We need to give leeway to the investigation,” he said.

The blast, at the building of the Air Materiel Wing Savings and Loan Association (AMWSLAI), just across Gate 1 of the airbase, also damaged the offices of the Alliance for Mindanao Off-grid Renewable Energy (AMORE) Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Zamboanga Representative Ma. Isabele Climaco.

Among the injured were four engineers of AMORE and two members of Climaco’s staff.

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-05-30T05:33:07+00:00UTC05bUTCFri, 30 May 2008 05:33:07 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

Posted in Uncategorized

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