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Bomb Blasts Rock Southern Philippines


Six people died and at least 144 others were wounded when two bombs exploded in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga. Authorities say the blasts occurred within a half hour of each other. The mayor of Zamboanga is calling for Manila and the military to strengthen security in the city.

Police and army officers are trying to piece together clues in the bombings of two department stores at midday in Zamboanga.

Ambulances, police cars and pickup trucks were used to ferry dozens of injured from the area. Hospitals and medical clinics are trying to cope with the deluge of injured.

"Right now we cannot pinpoint anyone who is responsible for this act," said Roilo Golez, the government's national security advisor. "We, at the national level, are closely monitoring this. We have an alert that is already in existence because of the Bali incident. "

Five-days ago bomb attacks killed nearly 200 people and injured hundreds on the Indonesian island of Bali. Most of the victims were foreign tourists. There is no indication that the bombing in Zamboanga is linked to the Bali explosions.

Police in the southern Philippines are questioning more than 10 men in connection with latest Zamboanga attacks; some of them are foreigners.

Zamboanga is a predominantly Roman Catholic city in the southern Philippines, a region where most people are Muslims. There are several rebel groups in the area, including the Abu Sayyaf - a violent Muslim extremist group the United States says has ties to the al-Qaida terror network.

The mayor of Zamboanga, Maria Clara Lobregat, warns residents to be wary of further terror attacks and hopes for better security around the city's ports and airports.

"I hope I can get more support from the military, from our government for them to realize that something has to be done in this part of the country," she said.

Three-weeks ago a bomb exploded near a bar in Zamboanga, killing a U.S. soldier and three Philippine citizens. Police blamed that attack on the Abu Sayyaf.

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