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Wed, Mar 05, 2003

Bomb Kills 19 at Philippine Airport

144 Injured in Waiting Area of Philippines' Second-Largest City's Airport

About 5:30PM local time Tuesday, a bomb went off at the Davao City Airport on Mindinao Island, Philippines. Davao is the second-largest city in that country; and its airport's activities have been suspended indefinitely, as a result of this terrorist act.

It is not yet known if there is a connection, but about one hour later, two people were injured in another bomb blast, 30 miles north, at a health clinic in Tagum City, also on the southern Philippine island.

At Davao the death toll was "at least 19" as of press time [note: it has since been raised to 21 --ed]; another 144 were reported injured. Both those numbers are expected to rise. Officially, one American is confirmed dead; three others are among the injured.

The bomb was apparently placed in a shelter just outside the arrival terminal. One flight had just landed; about 80 people were there to greet it. Reports so far have not differentiated among the killed and injured -- who was on the plane and who was in the terminal -- but indications are that all those killed and injured were not on the airplane.

There has, as yet, been no official claim on the carnage, but many suspect that the government's recently-announced crackdown on terrorists known to be in country may have precipitated this response. Both the MILF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and Abu Sayyaf, another Islamic group, have increased their holds on the outlying areas in recent years; the government has said that the revolutionary terror groups need to be dismantled, or top places in the military will be filled with new faces.

Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (pictured) called this airport attack, "a brazen act of terrorism which shall not go unpunished."

The Davao airport is undergoing a massive refurbishment, held up due to recently-discovered shoddy materials and workmanship, for which the consulting overseers were fired in December. The hoped-for increase in tourism has been held back, some say, because of persistent and common bomb threats. It is not known if there were a threat before this bombing, however.



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