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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 13:18 GMT
Blast rocks Philippines airport
 bomb blast victim lies on a bed inside a hospital in Davao
The injured were rushed to Davao hospital
An explosion has ripped through Davao City airport on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, killing at least 15 people.

More than 50 others are said to have been injured, among them children.

The explosion occurred at around 5:15pm (0915 GMT) in a packed waiting area, airport authorities said.

"It was a very, very loud explosion," said airport official Terry Labado. She said she saw "bodies flying".

The BBC correspondent in Manila, John McLean, said Philippine security forces said the blast was caused by a bomb.

But there is still no information about who was to blame for the explosion.

In the past, rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have been blamed by the military for a string of attacks on the island, including a car-bomb explosion at Cotabato airport last month, which killed one and injured another six people.

The Abu Sayyaf militant group - and another two factional organisations - have also been blamed for attacks in the region.

Rebel unrest

Tuesday's explosion "happened ... a few minutes after a Cebu Pacific flight arrived," an airport security official told the Associated Press news agency.

Many of the victims, have been rushed to the Davao City Medical Centre, according to local television reports.

Flights to and from Davao were suspended until further notice.

Shortly after the attack two further explosions were reported at a bus station and government clinic, though there were no reports of serious injuries.

A spokesman for Philippines President Gloria Arroyo said she "strongly condemns the Davao bombing as a brazen act of terrorism which shall not go unpunished."

Davao city, about 1,000 km (600 miles) south of Manila, is the largest city on the island of Mindanao, and has a largely Christian population and a reputation for relative calm.

Mindanao island is mired in factional fighting, with government troops clashing regularly with Muslim separatist rebels.

The rebels have been fighting for a separate Muslim homeland in the southern Philippines for three decades.

The Philippine army said on Tuesday it had killed 14 rebels in fighting on the island.

Mindanao was also hit by a major power cut on Tuesday, for the second time in a week, amid rumours of a suspected sabotage by guerrilla groups.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's June Kelly
"The packed arrivals hall was transformed into a scene of carnage"



SEE ALSO:
Philippines island blacked out
27 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Manila orders halt to military offensive
11 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Guide to Philippines conflict
06 Dec 01 |  Asia-Pacific



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