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Rebel Group Suspected in Philippine Bombings

October 18, 2002|From Associated Press

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — Bombings of two department stores that killed seven people Thursday bore similarities to an Oct. 2 blast that killed an American Green Beret and three others at a marketplace in this largely Christian city, the military said.

Because of the comparison, suspicion fell on Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim militant group the U.S. government believes is linked to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network. Like the earlier attack, Thursday's bombings apparently used dynamite. They came 30 minutes apart and injured 152 people.

There was no claim of responsibility, but military spokesman Lt. Col. Danilo Servando said suspicion fell on an Abu Sayyaf faction headed by Khadafi Abubakar Janjalani, one of five leaders of the group indicted by the U.S. Justice Department in July for a mass kidnapping last year that left a number of hostages dead, including two Americans.

Government officials have said Abu Sayyaf may have links with Jemaah Islamiah, another Islamic militant group in Southeast Asia that allegedly has ties to Al Qaeda. Philippine officials also have alleged attempts by Bin Laden's lieutenants to provide Abu Sayyaf with training.

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