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Sunday, January 3, 1999 Published at 12:32 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Nine die in Philippine grenade attack

Abu Sayyaf were also blamed for the 1995 Ipil massacre

At least nine people have been killed and about 50 wounded in a grenade explosion and subsequent exchange of gunfire in the southern Philippines.

Among the wounded were at least 10 soldiers or policemen in the southern town of Jolo.

John McLean in Manila: "All kinds of weapons are rife"
Reports from the area are still confused but it appears that Muslim separatist rebels were involved.

Police suspect the radical Islamic group, Abu Sayyaf, carried out the attack in revenge for the killing of its leader last month.

The violence began with a fire in a food market where a crowd of civilians, police, marines and former members of the rebel Moro National Liberation Front - a Muslim group that made peace with the government two years ago - had gathered.

One official said the ex-rebels were helping police and soldiers extinguish the blaze when the grenade was thrown. After it exploded there was gunfire with reports of police, soldiers and ex-rebels shooting each other in the confusion.

Eight police and two marines were reported to be injured in the attack. They were taken, along with other injured, to the port city of Zamboanga for treatment.

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19 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
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