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Suspected bomber dead in Philippines airport blast

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: U.S. condemns attack, offers to help investigation
  • Seven people were injured in the bombing at Zamboanga airport in the Philippines
  • The suspected bomber is dead, the state-run news agency said
  • The governor of Sulu Province said the attack was aimed at him

(CNN) -- A Philippines governor claims he was the target of a bomb explosion Thursday night that rocked the Zamboanga International Airport, according to the country's state-run news agency.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan told the Philippines News Agency that he was standing near his car just outside the arrival area about 6:20 p.m. when he saw an unidentified man approaching him and his companions.

A loud explosion was heard and thick black smoke billowed from the area where the man was last seen.

The man, who is believed to have been the one carrying the improvised explosive device, was killed, Mayor Celso Lobregat told the news agency. The governor received minor injuries.

The attack happened a day before a now-postponed visit by the U.S. ambassador.

"The man could be a suicide bomber and his intention was to get close to me," Tan said, adding that it was the second attempt on his life in about 15 months. On May 13, 2009, the news agency said, Tan survived a roadside bomb attack in downtown Jolo. Ten of his followers and armed escorts were hurt.

He said he was convinced the bomb attack in Zamboanga was the handiwork of his political foes.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack and authorities are investigating the incident, the news agency said.

The U.S. Embassy condemned the violence and offered assistance.

"I deplore this heinous crime that victimized ordinary travelers. Our condolences to the ... wounded victims of this brutal attack," Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. said in a written statement. "We would like to extend our admiration to local authorities and the Philippine National Police (PNP) who moved swiftly to aid persons wounded by the blast."

Thomas said he will not travel through the airport Friday so as not to be a distraction during the investigation. "The issues I planned to address -- including our joint effort to prevent trafficking in persons and our collaboration in the fight against tuberculosis -- remain priorities on our shared agenda."