Blast kills 5 people in southern Philippines

MANILA - A powerful blast killed at

least five people and wounded three near a school on a southern
island in the Philippines on Thursday, a marine general said.

No has claimed responsibility for the attack but a small

band of Islamist militants with close ties to al Qaida and
regional 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 the

island in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic state, helping
train local soldiers fight Islamist militants.