Blast hits Zamboanga City airport; 2 dead, 22 injured
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 4) - Two people were killed and at least 22 injured after an explosion outside the arrival area of the Zamboanga City International Airport on Thursday evening.
An official report said the explosion occurred at 6:15 p.m.
As of 9:30 pm Thursday, military sources confirmed that 2 people are dead and 22 others were wounded due to the blast.
Among the dead was the suspected bomber.
Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat told TV Patrol early Thursday night that at least 12 were injured.
"There are about 12, we're still counting, or 13 wounded who have been brought to the hospital. At least one is in serious condition," he said.
One of those injured was Sulu Governor Sakur Tan. He was among the passengers of a Philippine Airlines flight from Manila that landed in Zamboanga at 6:10 p.m.
"I talked to the governor and he said that he was one of the passengers going out of the airport (when the bomb exploded)....After the explosion, he went back to the arrival area and I was able to talk to him. Gov. Tan showed me he has a wound, very slight scratch at the rib, but he is okay," said Lobregat.
When asked if the bomb was intended for the governor, Lobregat said: "We have no indication on what is the motive, who was the target."
Tan's spokesman, Sonny Abing, said the governor suffered a scratch at the right abdomen, but the injury did not require Tan to be confined at the hospital. As of posting, Tan was in his residence in Zamboanga City near the airport.
The injured were reportedly brought to Brent Hospital. One of the victims, who sustained shrapnel injuries in the abdomen and incomplete amputation of the left arm, was in critical condition due to severe blood loss.
Another person injured, Elvin Shinn, was already in stable condition, reports said.
The explosion occurred the night before the scheduled visit to the city of US Ambassador Harry Thomas.
On Saturday, Lobregat said Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams is also scheduled to arrive at the city for a visit at Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.
Lobregat said that initial investigation indicated that the victim who died on the spot was the one who was carrying the explosive device.
"So far, there is one victim who died on the spot. And apparently, he was the one who had the explosive device with him," he said.
An official report said a "suicide bomber detonated himself near the arrival area...to coincide with the departure of arriving passengers at the arrival gate."
The "alleged suicide bomber was instantly killed," the report added.
Asked if he thought the victim was a suicide bomber, Lobregat said, "As to kung premature explosion o tumutok sa katawan niya, hindi pa klaro, iimbestigahin pa. It's very hard to make any pronouncements at this point in time. We don't want to exacerbate the situation."
"The Papal Nuncio is supposed to arrive here and proceed to Ipil on Saturday. The US ambassador is supposed to be arriving tomorrow for a series of activities. In this light, we will have to await what advice we will have from the US embassy," he said.
He expressed hope that the US ambassador would continue with his visit to the city.
Asked if he can guarantee the safety of these VIPs, Lobregat said, "Actually, it would be very hard to guarantee, give a 100% guarantee, but I will be there if and when the ambassador attends his activities, and I will be there with the Papal Nuncio."
An eyewitness said that the PAL flight from Manila was scheduled to arrive at 5:30 p.m., but was delayed and arrived at around 6:10 p.m..
Most of the passengers were still inside the airport when the blast occurred.
Some government officials and foreigners were reportedly among the passengers of the flight.
Lobregat said he had ordered the convening of the city's crisis management committee to assess the situation. -- With reports from RJ Rosalado, David Santos, ABS-CBN Zamboanga, and Ces Oreña Drilon, ABS-CBN News; abs-cbnNEWS.com; and TV Patrol