Philippine Congressman Assassinated

This is from Al Jazeera. This is not the typical way of assassinating someone. Often in the Philippines a person will just be shot. Instead of blowing up the motorcyle someone would have driven by on it with an accomplice and gunned down Akbar but who knows. I find it a bit surprising that the blast was not blamed on Abu Sayyaf group. They are the usual culprits named by the AFP and PNP because they have in the past been responsible for several incidents. They also have reason to hate Akbar for being part of a peace agreement with the government.
As the article notes people are very suspicious of the Arroyo government and some no doubt see the blast as an engineered diverson from the impeachment process and the reports of wrongdoing within the Arroyo government. It doesn't seem to matter that Akbar was an ally of Arroyo!
The article makes it sound as if Akbar still has ties to the Abu Sayyaf. I should think that is doubtful. His actions are quite to the contrary, pro-US and pro-Arroyo.

Even the cause of the last big blast at the Gloria Mall is still not completely settled. Although the govt. investigators are "almost" sure it was an accident a gas explosion the owners of the mall claim their experts say it could not have been methane gas.

Philippine congressman assassinated

A Muslim congressman who was a close ally of the president and suspected of having ties to the Abu Sayyaf, has been killed in a blast that ripped through a section of the Philippine House of Representatives.

Wahab Akbar, who represented southern Basilan island, died of his injuries in hospital on Tuesday.

The blast killed two other people.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from the scene in Manila, said investigators were not calling the blast a terror attack but an assassination.

Geary Barias, Manila's police chief, said: "From what we saw, it looks like congressman Akbar was the target of the attack."

He said a parked motorcycle found in the rubble had a bomb on it.

Ronaldo Puno, the interior secretary, also said the target appeared to be Akbar.

He sought to downplay the possible involvement of Muslim fighters, saying the investigation is "pointing away from terrorist attack and more of a directed assault on a certain individual".

Suspected Abu Sayyaf links

Akbar, 47, was a member of the Moro National Liberation Front, a Muslim separatist group that dropped its secessionist goal and signed a peace accord with the government in September 1996.

He was suspected of knowing the leaders of the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf and later having a falling out with the group's commanders.

As governor of southern Basilan province, he had supported US-backed military operations on the island targeting the group.

The government calls the Abu Sayyaf "terrorists" and has blamed them for many bombings in the country.

Tuesday's explosion ripped through one entrance of congress just minutes after its evening session ended around 8pm (1200 GMT), sending debris flying across the parking lot.

The driver of another legislator and a congress employee were also killed in the blast which tore the roof off the southern entrance of the building.

Seven people, including at least two congresswomen, were injured.

Joel Villanueva, a congressman, said less than 50 of the 275 members of the house were inside when the bomb exploded.

"It was a very huge explosion," Villanueva said. "We are stunned."

'Diversion tactics'

Gloria Arroyo, the president, was to face a new impeachment complaint set to be debated in congress on Wednesday morning.

Ortigas said many Filipinos, long suspicious of the Arroyo administration, felt the government was involved in many tactics to divert attention from allegations of corruption against the president and some felt the blast may be another such tactic.

Arroyo, facing her third impeachment complaint in as many years, said while police investigated and bolstered security, "we're making a call against rumours, accusations that create confusion, fear and conflict".

The Philippine capital has been jittery since a blast tore through a shopping mall in Manila's financial district last month, leaving 11 people dead and injuring over 100.

Police initially thought a bomb was to blame, but later said the explosion was an industrial accident.

The owners of the mall disputed that finding and a red alert is up over the city once again.


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