Tuesday, December 23, 2008

17 wounded in Sayyaf attack in the Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 23, 2008) – At least 17 people were injured in an Abu Sayyaf grenade attack late Tuesday outside a popular hamburger fast food chain in the southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said one of two men riding tandem on motorcycle tossed the fragmentation grenade outside the store of the Jollibee Hamburger in Isabela City on Basilan island, south of Zamboanga City.

“Two unidentified person on a motorcycle threw a fragmentation grenade in front of the Isabela Jollibee fast food,” Lt. Steffani Cacho, a military spokeswoman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Brig. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of the marine forces on the island, said the attack occurred at around 9 p.m. “We suspect the Abu Sayyaf was behind the attack that injured at least 17 people,” he said by phone from Isabela City.

He said the attack was probably in retaliation to continued operation against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan. “There is an ongoing operation against the terrorists and this attack could be diversionary,” he said.

Guerrero said most of those injured in the explosion were civilians relaxing at the plaza in front of the store owned by Jollibee Foods.

Jollibee Foods is a leading operator of quick-service restaurants in the Philippines, with more than 1,500 outlets in the county. The company also operates such chains as Greenwich Pizza, Chowking and Yonghe King, Red Ribbon and Delifrance French-style cafés.

The Abu Sayyaf group has been linked to the spate of kidnappings and bomb attacks in the Philippines and is labeled a terrorist organization by both Manila and Washington, and is believed by the US to have links with the al-Qaeda terror network and Jemaah Islamiya.

The Philippine government, aided by the US military, has deployed thousands of troops in the south, including in Basilan island, in an effort to eradicate Abu Sayyaf. (Mindanao Examiner)

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