Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blast hits Zamboanga ahead of Arroyo's arrival

President Gloria Arroyo during a visit Wednesday, March 24, 2010 to Basilan Island, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, where she inspected government infrastructure projects in Tipo-Tipo town. (Photo by Rey Baniquet).

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 24, 2010) – An improvised bomb exploded in Zamboanga City ahead of President Gloria Arroyo’s visit Wednesday to nearby Basilan province in the southern Philippines.

The explosion near the Zamboanga City Hall occurred late Tuesday, but police and military said no one was hurt or killed in the blast. It was unknown whether the explosion was connected to Arroyo’s visit. The blast hit an area where Muslim traders had previously occupied.

The army said the blast was probably pulled off by pranksters, although authorities were still investigating the explosion which damaged a concrete wall.

“That’s nothing serious. It was probably carried out by pranksters,” said Army Colonel Santiago Baluyot, commander of a local anti-terror task force.
The explosion coincided with police announcements that the Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels were planning to sow terror.

Arroyo arrived at a military base in Zamboanga City on Wednesday and flew by a helicopter to Basilan, a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels, to inaugurate several government infrastructure projects.

Zamboanga had been previously bombed by Abu Sayyaf militants and Moro rebels who are actively operating in the restive region.

While in Basilan, Arroyo met with her political allies, but details of the meeting were unknown. Sources close to local politicians said Arroyo told her allies to campaign hard and ensure the victory of former Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro who is running for President in the May 10 elections.

Teodoro is running under the government coalition Lakas-Kampi parties and popular among many people in Mindanao.

Senior Superintendent Antonio Mendoza, Basilan police chief, said Arroyo also spoke with villagers and assured them of continued government infrastructure projects.

Arroyo’s chopper landed in the town of Ungkaya Pukan and then she motored to Tipo-Tipo town where she inspected the projects.

“The President’s visit is a big success. Basilan officials and villagers welcomed the President and they were all happy that she visited Basilan and inspected various government projects,” Mendoza said. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: