On the eve of US envoy’s visit, a bomb explodes in Zamboanga
From GMA News:
Sulu governor hurt in Zamboanga airport blast
One person was killed Thursday while several others, including the governor of a southern Philippine province, were wounded when a bomb exploded at the arrival area of the Zamboanga International Airport.
Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan was among the 12 hurt in the explosion, according to a report in GMA News’ “24 Oras.”
The explosion occurred a day before US Ambassador Harry Thomas’ visit to the city for “a series of activities,” according to Mayor Celso Lobregat.
Thomas on Thursday night announced that he is postponing his scheduled visit.
“Knowing that the Philippine National Police is working hard to investigate this tragic incident and understanding that my visit would require a great deal of security support, I have decided to postpone my travel tomorrow to avoid distracting the police from their most urgent task — investigating this heinous attack,” Thomas said in a US Embassy statement.
Thomas’ visit was in connection with the US-RP joint effort against human trafficking and collaboration to fight tuberculosis.
“I look forward to traveling to Zamboanga soon, to reiterate our support on these vital issues and, I hope, to congratulate authorities on a successful investigation of this awful crime,” he said.
Tan, who was a passenger on a flight that had just arrived, said it is possible that the lone fatality was the bomber himself.
“Malamang siya yung bomber kasi yung katawan niya nawala (There is high possibility that the fatality was the bomber because his body was obliterated),” he said in a “24 Oras” interview.
In a separate interview on GMA News’ 24 Oras, Lobregat said, “Actually, the initial assessment is that the fatality was the one carrying the bomb,” he told “24 Oras”
He could not say what group was responsible for the attack.
The mayor said it was not clear if the incident was a case of premature explosion or suicide bombing. “It’s under investigation and it’s very hard to make any pronouncement at this point in time,” he added.
Tan’s spokesman, Sonny Abing, said the governor suffered a “light scratch” on the right abdomen. He said the injury did not require Tan to be confined at a hospital. He said the governor is now in his residence in Zamboanga City.
Second time for Tan
This was the second time that Tan survived a bomb attack.
On May 13 last year, a bomb exploded near the Sulu provincial capitol when he was about to board his vehicle. Ten people were hurt in that incident.
“It was during the height of the ICRC crisis,” he said in the GMA News interview. He was referring to the abduction of three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) volunteers, two of them foreigners, in Jolo town early last year.
The three — Andreas Notter, a 38-year-old Swiss national; Eugenio Vagni, 62, Italian; and ICRC engineer Mary Jean Lacaba, a Filipina — were released separately after several months in captivity.
Aside from Thomas, Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams is also scheduled to visit the city as a jump-off point for his trip to Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay province on Saturday.
Palace condemns bombing
In Malacañang, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III has instructed law enforcers to immediately investigate the crime.
“He (Aquino) condemns the violence. He extends his deepest sympathy to the families of those whose loved ones have been killed or wounded,” Lacierda said in a text message to reporters.
He said Aquino is getting updates from Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior and Local Government secretary Jesse Robredo on the incident. – KBK, GMANews.TV