Written By Real Kevin Jay on Saturday, January 24, 2015 | 9:23 AM
ZAMBOANGA: One person was killed and 48 others injured Friday as a parked car exploded in the southern Philippines, with the local authorities blaming the blast on al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Witnesses told police a parked car went up in flames and was torn to pieces in a powerful mid-afternoon blast that shattered glass panels in a commercial section on Zamboanga city's outskirts.
"There was a suspected bomb in the car," Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, the city police chief, told reporters.
The explosion occurred in front of a pub and across the street from a bus terminal, he said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blast and the lone fatality was not immediately identified, he said.
Most of the other casualties were cut from flying glass shards and are being treated at nearby hospitals, Casimiro added.
Zamboanga city Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco alleged the blast was linked to a plan by the Abu Sayyaf armed group to spring 57 comrades detained at the city jail.
She demanded that the national government remove the prisoners from the city and transfer them to a detention facility elsewhere so the city would not be targeted by bombings.
"This is an SOS call for the 57 inmates to be removed and transferred for the safety and protection of the city," Climaco told reporters.
The Abu Sayyaf, a loose band of a few hundred militants founded with seed money from Al Qaeda, has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history.
These have included the bombing of a ferry in Manila in 2004 in which more than 100 people died, and repeated kidnappings of foreigners in the southern Philippines who are usually ransomed off for huge amounts.
Many foreign governments warn their citizens against travelling to the southern Philippine areas, including Zamboanga, which are regarded as strongholds for the Abu Sayyaf and other militants.
The Zamboanga city jail warden, Julius Arro, told reporters that prison authorities foiled an attempt by unknown supporters to slip at least one gun and 100 bullets to Abu Sayyaf detainees on Monday.
No arrests were made, he added.
Since 2002, US troops have been helping train and advise Filipino troops fighting Abu Sayyaf militants, and the group has been mostly contained in recent years.
In September 2013, Zamboanga was attacked by another armed group loyal to former rebel leader Nur Misuari.
The attack triggered three weeks of street battles that left more than 240 people dead and large parts of the city of nearly one million in smouldering ruins.
During the fighting, in which the rebels also used civilians as human shields, about 10,000 homes were destroyed by fires, forcing 116,000 to flee.
Misuari remains at large and faces rebellion charges alongside 57 detained attackers.