Blast kills 5 people in southern Philippines

MANILA - A powerful blast killed atleast five people and wounded three near a school on a southernisland in the Philippines on Thursday, a marine general said.

No has claimed responsibility for the attack but a smallband of Islamist militants with close ties to al Qaida andregional network Jemaah Islamiah (JI) operates on the island,Brigadier General Romeo Tanalgo, marine commander, said.

Since 2004, a small group of U.S. soldiers is based on theisland in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic state, helpingtrain local soldiers fight Islamist militants.

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