Three people were killed and at least 18 injured yesterday when suspected terrorists detonated a bomb outside an air force base in the southern Philippines, the military said.
The blast struck soldiers and their families waiting near the main gates of the Edwin Andrews air base in Zamboanga, said Colonel Darwin Guerra, a senior counterterrorist commander.
“We don’t have the identity of the suspects yet, but this is an act of terrorism,” Guerra told reporters, without saying if the dead were soldiers or civilians.
Zamboanga has been the target of numerous bomb attacks in recent years carried out by Muslim extremist groups or criminal gangs.
“The bomb was hidden in a bag and was detonated by remote control using a cellphone,” Guerra said.
“Military and police bomb disposal teams are now on the scene and it will be some time before we can build a definitive picture of what type of device was used,” he said.
Guerra said three people were killed and 18 others were being treated in hospital.
The soldiers and their families had been waiting to hitch a ride in a military aircraft, he added.
Former US base
The Edwin Andrews air force base once housed US special forces waiting to be deployed to nearby areas in the southern Philippines to advise the local military on counterterrorism.
But the US troops are now housed in the Western Mindanao Philippine military command center, just 2km away.
The air force base supports mainly Vietnam-era UH-1H helicopters and C-130 transport aircraft of the Philippine Air Force.
Eyewitnesses described a loud explosion followed by scenes of panic as people ran from the area.
A building where many of the injured were gathered was destroyed by the blast, a reporter on the scene said.