Accessibility links

5 Suspects to be Charged in Philippine Bombings - 2002-10-23

Authorities in the Philippines are preparing to charge five suspects with carrying out three deadly bombings in the southern city of Zamboanga. The men are thought to belong to the Abu Sayyaf, a group the United States says has connections to the al-Qaida terror network.

Authorities say the men admitted taking part in the bombing of two shopping arcades in Zamboanga that killed seven and injured 160 last week.

Police say they also were involved in a blast at a Roman Catholic shrine Sunday night that killed one and the bombing of a bar three weeks ago that killed four. One of those victims was an American soldier.

National Police spokesman Leopoldo Bataoil said Wednesday some of the suspects were found in an Abu Sayyaf hideout in the outskirts of Zamboanga.

"The suspects, all members of the Abu Sayaff group, are believed to be responsible for at least three bombing incidents," said the official. "Namely the Malagutay bombing last October 2, and then the Shop-o-rama and Shoppers' Central October 17, and the Fort Pilar shrine bombing last October 20."

The Abu Sayyaf rebels say they are fighting for an Islamic state in the southern Philippines, but they are best known for a series of kidnappings and murders.

The men were brought before Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Manila on Wednesday. She said they were caught with explosives preparing for another attack.

Mr. Bataoil says the men are being returned to Zamboanga where they are to be charged in connection with the bombings. "Several pieces of evidence were recovered," he said, including "some parts of explosive devices and receipts from a shopper's mall which was bombed recently."

Among the items found were powders used for explosives, packages of nails, and instructions for making explosives. Maps of Zamboanga and firearms were also found.

Police say there is no evidence linking the suspects to the bombing of a passenger bus in Manila last week, which left two dead and injured at least 20 others.

The spate of bombings in the Philippines last week followed a terror attack on the Indonesian island in Bali, which left at least 180 dead and hundreds injured. The Southeast Asian group Jemaah Islamiah and the international al-Qaida terror network are suspected in that attack.

There is no evidence tying the Bali attack to the recent Philippines bombings. However, Philippine authorities have linked Jemaah Islamiah to bomb attacks in Manila in December 2000.