Terror link dismissed in Manila blast
MANILA: A grenade exploded near Manila’s financial district of Makati early on Friday, but no one was hurt and officials dismissed any links to Muslim rebels.
The explosion came a day after bomb blasts in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga killed seven people, and less than a week since the attacks in Bali, Indonesia, that killed more than 180 people.
“Two grenades were thrown. One exploded, the other fell to the ground (without going off),” Makati city mayor Jejomar Binay told local radio.
“From all indication, this looks like a petty quarrel, maybe someone drunk, this is not a terrorist act,” he said.
“We don’t see any connection with Zamboanga,” National Security Adviser Roilo Golez told a group of foreign journalists. I don’t think it was a real terrorist group.”
“There’s no reason for alarm and we should not allow our normal life to be disrupted,” Golez said.
In Thursday’s attack, bombs ripped through the main bazaar of mostly Christian Zamboanga, at the heart of a Muslim insurgency.
Officials said the attack, which injured 162 people, could have been part of a regional plot by Islamic radicals.
Suspicion for the Philippines immediately focused on a radical Muslim group also being investigated for Saturday’s explosions in Bali.
The military blamed radicals fighting for an Islamic state in the south of the Roman Catholic nation and said investigators were looking into the possible involvement of the militant Jemaah Islamiah group.
Golez said 21 people were questioned in connection with the Zamboanga bombing, but no arrests were made and most of those questioned have been allowed to leave.
Zamboanga has been the scene in recent years of bombings blamed on the Muslim Abu Sayyaf guerrillas, whom the United States has linked to al Qaeda, prime suspect in last year’s September 11 attacks on the United States.
Some 260 US troops are in Zamboanga, the remnants of a 1,000-strong force which spent six months in the area this year to train Filipino soldiers in eliminating the Abu Sayyaf. The blasts occurred about two weeks after a homemade bomb believed planted by the Abu Sayyaf exploded near a Zamboanga karaoke bar, killing a US soldier and two Filipinos. —Reuters