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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK
Philippines blast targets US troops
Investigators at the scene of the Zamboanga blast
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing
An explosion has killed a US soldier and a Filipino serviceman outside a bar near a military base in the southern Philippines city of Zamboanga.

At least 20 other people were injured in the blast.

Army Colonel Alexander Yapching, the head of Philippine military forces in the city, described the device as a home-made bomb, set off on a motorcycle outside a karaoke bar which US soldiers were known to frequent.

The US troops were assigned to a humanitarian mission on Basilan Island, but had been staying at a base in Zamboanga.

They remained in the country after most of an American force sent to help local troops fight Abu Sayyaf rebels pulled out in July.

The blast reportedly scattered nails around the area, took the roof off a wooden house and damaged at least six nearby shops.

A bomb squad secured the area, and security was heightened in the city, with checkpoints set up on several streets.

'Handiwork of terrorists'

"We should be careful," Colonel Yapching said. "We really don't know where our enemies might strike."

Colonel Yapching said that at least one other American was among the injured. Two of the injured were also believed to be Filipino soldiers.

Abu Sayyaf rebels
The Abu Sayyaf has been linked to Osama Bin Laden

The Pentagon confirmed that one US soldier was dead and another was injured in the incident, which happened around 2100 local time (1300 GMT).

A US embassy spokeswoman in Manila condemned the incident, declaring it a "brutal act of terrorism".

Colonel Yapching did not speculate on who was behind the blast.

"We're not sure yet, but definitely we believe it's the handiwork of terrorists," he said.

There were reports that the blast may have also killed the driver of the motorcycle which carried the bomb.

The Abu Sayyaf group, which has been linked to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, has staged bombings in Zamboanga before.

Its leader recently urged "all believers in the oneness of Allah" to "protect the interest of Islam and strike at its enemies, both foreign and local".

Other incidents

But communist rebels also operate in the Philippines, and have staged a series of recent attacks.

A military official told the Associated Press that investigators were looking to see if there were any links between the fatal blast and two other incidents on Wednesday.

Local TV reported that a small bomb damaged a parked car near the fence of a police headquarters in the town of Imus, in Cavite province south of Manila.

And police sniffer dogs were called in to inspect several train stations in Manila after concerns that communist rebels might launch an attack.

There are still 270 US soldiers in the Philippines, the US military said, after a 1,000-strong force spent six months in the country assisting local troops fighting the rebels.

See also:

27 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
22 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
07 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
22 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
31 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
01 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
27 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
06 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


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