Grenade blast kills 2, injures dozens in Philippines

AP and AFP

MANILA — A grenade explosion killed two people and wounded at least 30 others outside a crowded bar in the southern Philippines, officials said Sunday. Investigators were trying to identify the attackers who tossed the grenade late Saturday outside the El Sentro Resto Bar and a nearby drug store in Iligan city. Police found the pin of the grenade, which also damaged a number of parked cars and sent people fleeing in panic, army Col. Daniel Lucero said. It remained unclear if Muslim rebels, al-Qaida-linked militants or extortion gangs were behind the blast or if it was sparked by feuding civilians, Lucero said. President Benigno Aquino III called on the attackers to surrender, warning that authorities would not stop until they were captured.

“If you are listening right now, it’s better that you surrender now because we will not stop pursuing you and we will catch you,” Aquino told reporters in a message to the attackers. Aquino said a grenade was used in the attack and the man who threw it escaped in a van, but he did not specify a motive, saying police were working on two possibilities. He did not identify any group behind the attack. He said the government’s intelligence arm was assessing security threats across the country and was on constant alert. Iligan lies on the north coast of Mindanao island. The region has been mired in a decades-long Muslim insurgency as well as bombings and kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf, a group founded with seed money from late al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in the 1990s. The government of Australia, which funds anti-poverty projects in the south, expressed its sympathies to the victims.