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Extremists blamed for Philippine blasts

Firefighters work at the scene of the blast
Firefighters work at the scene of the blast

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CNN's Marga Ortigas has more on bombings in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga. (October 17)
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At least 4 people were killed when two bombs exploded in a shopping mall in the largely Christian city of Zamboanga in the southern Philippines
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SPECIAL REPORT

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines -- Philippine authorities say Islamic extremists may be behind a bombing attack in the southern Philippines.

Six people were killed and 144 injured after bombs exploded in two department stores in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga.

According to Lt. Col. Danilo Servando, a Philippine military spokesman, there were a total of seven bombs. Police either defused or detonated five of the devices, but two others exploded.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The incident is the latest in a wave of attacks to hit the Philippines this month.

The first bomb went off at the Shop-o-Rama department store in the city at about 11:40 a.m. local time (0340 GMT), killing at least three people.

Shortly afterwards, as police were defusing another bomb at the same location, a second bomb exploded at another department store about a block away, killing at least one person and wounding several others.

Police described the bombs as incendiary explosive devices and believe they may have been detonated by timers. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo immediately condemned the latest terrorist strike to hit her impoverished country.

Rescue teams have rushed to the scene to treat the wounded.

One unidentified teenager, pressing a white towel to her forehead at the medical center, told ABS-CBN television that she was walking in front of Shop-o-Rama when she heard a loud explosion.

"I fell down and blood was oozing from my forehead," The Associated Press reported her as saying, adding that she had soaked through three towels and also had an arm injury but was being sent home after treatment, apparently to make room for more seriously injured victims.

Recent attacks

An October 2 blast in Zamboanga killed four people, including a U.S. Green Beret commando, and injured about two dozen others.

Officials blamed the attack on the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf -- tied to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network -- which warned a week earlier it would mount attacks on civilian, military and U.S. targets to retaliate for the ongoing government offensive against Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines.

Just over a week later, on October 10, an attack in a crowded bus station in Kidapawan city -- also in the southern Philippines -- killed six people and wounded ten others

The latest bombings come on the heels of a deadly terrorist attack on the Island of Bali in Indonesia that killed more than 180 people over the weekend.

Indonesian Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil has implicated al Qaeda for the Saturday night explosions in a Bali entertainment district.

-- CNN Correspondent Maria Ressa contributed to this report



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