Manila, March 4 (Reuters): A bomb ripped through a crowd at an airport in the strife-torn southern Philippines today, killing at least 18 people and wounding up to 100.
At least one American was among the dead in the blast at the Davao international airport in the Mindanao region, where US troops are training government troops to fight Muslim rebels. Three other Americans were wounded.
It was not immediately clear if the Americans were tourists or people working in the Philippines.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said the blast was a “brazen act of terrorism which will not go unpunished”.
The bomb went off in the midst of scores of people who had taken refuge from a downpour in a shelter just outside the airport’s arrival terminal.
The blast in Davao, the Philippines’ second-largest city, ripped through the roof of the shelter. Soon after that explosion, a home-made bomb went off outside a health centre in the nearby town of Tagum, killing one person and wounding three, police said.
The military said it had no suspects but suggested the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest of four Muslim separatist groups in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic country, was responsible. The rebels denied any involvement and no other group claimed responsibility.
Davao, a gateway to Mindanao, has largely escaped the separatist violence that has plagued the region for decades.
Doctors told radio stations in Manila that around 100 people had been wounded, 20 of them seriously. Many of those in hospital had shrapnel wounds, they said.
The US embassy said one American was killed in the attack and three others were wounded.
An embassy spokesman said he could not comment on what the Americans were doing in the area because of privacy concerns.