The bomb exploded at 10 a.m. Thursday in front of the Alliance for Mindanao Off-Grid Renewable Energy (AMORE) Area Office, a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
The AMORE office was hit hardest by the explosion, and four of its engineers inside the building were reported to have been injured.
The office of Congresswoman Beng Climaco beside AMORE was also destroyed and two of its staff members were among the wounded. The rest of the victims are civilian passengers waiting in front of the AMORE office for the arrival of the C-130 military cargo aircraft.
Witnesses said that the explosive, an improvised bomb that used a cellular phone as triggering device, was placed in a blue bag and left behind by a man among the baggage of the waiting passengers.
Killed in the explosion were Ayesa Busmion, 20, and Emedito Tality, 63.
Those who were injured were identified as Amelita Algones, 35; Carmen Paltinca, 38; Josana Jean Paltinca, 6; Jonard Toledo, 10; Katelyn Toledo, 8; Bernadette Toledo, 33; Joseph Buskay, 18; Jennifer Manuel, 27; Felina Marinio, 59; Isagani Alyarin Jr., 37; Jaycon Llanda, 30; Mohammad Sha Abdul, 29; Geraldine Gregorio, 25; Aliezel Gregorio, 3; Mohammad Hussin Tapsi, 38; Benedict Gregorio; 35, Nur-Adzlene Sulayman, 24; Amy Layan, 20; Arnel Carbonilla, 27; Amier Masarik, 38; and Lolibeth Clubelo, 29.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing. But Zamboanga City Police chief Superintendent Lurimer Detran pointed to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Abu Sayyaf and the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiya as the likely culprits, saying it could be in retaliation for the ongoing military offensive against MILF forces in Basilan province.
Director Jaime Caringal of the Philippine National Police in Region 9 claimed they have been receiving reports since April about plans by a special operations group of the MILF to carry out abductions and bombings. He also said the bombing incident might be connected with the abduction of Inocente Bautista, a prominent businessman in Zamboanga City, last May 27.
During a press conference held at the City Hall Thursday afternoon, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said "this act is not justifiable under any norm of human conduct. It is condemnable and no ideology or belief can justify injuring a three-year old and six-year old girls."
Teodoro added that if it was proven the MILF was behind the bombing, "we will react to any violation of the ceasefire agreement, and we will take the proper legal procedures against them."
The secretary was en route to Manila together with Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano from a project visit in Sibutu, Tawi-Tawi province with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (By Angel Tiamson-Saceda/MindaNews)