South Philippines explosion leaves one dead, 48 wounded

South Philippines explosion leaves one dead, 48 wounded

HomeAsia-PacificMore Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:14PM

At least one person has been killed and 48 others have sustained injuries after a massive explosion ripped through a commercial district in the Philippines’ second largest and southernmost island of Mindanao.

Witnesses told police officials that the blast took place just after 3 p.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Friday, when an explosives-laden car went up in flames and was reduced to pieces on the outskirts of the city of Zamboanga, in Mindanao.

The forces of the explosion shattered glass panels in the area, and inflicted damage to a number of buildings nearby.

“There was a suspected bomb in the car,” Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro told reporters, adding that the act of violence took place in front of a pub and across the street from a bus terminal.

Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco said the blast was linked to a plan by members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group to release 57 comrades being held at the city jail.

She called upon authorities to remove the prisoners from the city, and transfer them to a detention facility elsewhere so the city would not be targeted by bombings.

“This is an SOS call for the 57 inmates to be removed and transferred for the safety and protection of the city,” Climaco commented.

The Abu Sayyaf extremist group, which was established in 1990s on the islands of Basilan and Sulu, has been blamed for the worst terrorist acts in the Philippines’ recent history, including the 2004 bombing of a ferry that left more than 100 dead, the abduction of foreign missionaries and tourists, and the beheading of local people.

According to the Philippine army, at least 13 hostages, including five foreigners, are being held by the extremists.

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