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Media Report Blames Abu Sayyaf for Terrorist Attack in the Philippines - 2003-03-06

The death toll from Tuesday's airport bombing in the Philippines has risen to 21. Philippine authorities have arrested several members of a rebel Muslim group in connection with the attack. However, there are unconfirmed reports that another group, the Abu Sayyaf has claimed responsibility for the blast. VOA's Jim Teeple reports.

The ABSCBN television network reports that Abu Sayyaf leader Hamsiraji Sali has claimed responsibility for the bombing at Davao City airport. The report says the Abu Sayyaf leader apologized to the victims of Tuesday's blast but also threatened more attacks.

The attack was the worst terrorist incident in the Philippines in three years. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has vowed to bring the bombers to justice.

Authorities have detained five members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for questioning in connection with the bombing. The separatist group has denied any role in the attack.

Last month President Arroyo called for the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf militants in three months. The United States considers the group a terrorist organization. Last year, hundreds of U.S. troops helped train the Philippine military to fight the militants, and more training is planned for this year.