ZAMBOANGA CITY (Updated 11:51 p.m.) -- Two people were killed while 24 others were wounded, including Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan, in a bomb explosion outside the arrivals area of an international airport here, official said Thursday.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Tomas Jr., who was supposed to visit Zamboanga City on Friday, postponed the trip, saying it would be a burden to security personnel investigating the attack. He offered US assistance in the probe.
The blast went off at 6:15 p.m., just outside the arrival gate as passengers were leaving the Zamboanga City International Airport, said Col. Santiago Baluyot, head of the military's Task Force Zamboanga. As the smoke cleared, police found a man's mutilated body.
Investigators were trying to determine whether the man killed was a bomber, Baluyot said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.
"I believe I was the target," Gov. Tan told reporters, saying the device went off just a meter away from him. "I saw the flash very clearly."
Tan, along with son Maimbung, Sulu Mayor Samier Tan, was on the plane that arrived minutes earlier from Manila. He sustained a small wound near his ribs. He was later discharged from the hospital.
An enemy of the Abu Sayyaf militants, the Sulu governor has been targeted before. He escaped unharmed when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded near his convoy in Sulu in May last year. A town mayor and at least three security escorts were wounded in that attack.
Zamboanga Mayor Celso Lobregat said the man who was killed in Thursday's attack "looks like he was the one who was carrying the explosive device."
But he declined to comment on the type of bomb or who was the target.
No warnings or threats were received, Lobregat told reporters.
"I deplore this heinous crime that victimized ordinary travelers," US Ambassador Harry Thomas said in a statement. He said he decided "to postpone my travel tomorrow in order to avoid distracting" police from investigating the attack.
Thomas had been due to fly to the airport with Gloria Steele, the new director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to visit Friday some US funded projects in the city.
Thomas and Steele are scheduled to visit the Halfway House that is jointly run by the Visayan Forum Foundation and the Philippine Ports Authority where the US Ambassador will witness the signing of a memorandum of agreement among members of the Zamboanga City Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force.
The US envoy was also set to join in the signing of two memoranda of understanding on tuberculosis treatment between private sector partners and the city government of Zamboanga.
President Benigno Aquino III "condemns the violence" and " instructed the relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice," said his spokesman, Edwin Lacierda. (Bong Garcia/AP/Sunnex)