DAVAO, Philippines – The Philippine president Thursday promised swift justice for the bombing that killed 16 people on Davao's bustling wharf, and she warned that rising terrorism can be contained only with "collective vigilance."
Tensions ran high in the Philippines after Wednesday's blast in the southern city. Early Thursday, gunmen lobbed two grenades and strafed a Davao mosque with automatic gunfire, but there were no casualties. A hand grenade was found in a plastic bag in a Manila train station later Thursday, and a bomb scare delayed a Manila-Los Angeles flight by almost five hours.
No group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bombing, the second deadly attack in the southern Philippine city in less than a month.
During a visit to Davao on Thursday, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assured the nation "justice will be done" and promised a speedy, thorough investigation. She warned "the threat of terror will be relentless."
The separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, blamed for a similar March 4 bombing at Davao's airport that killed 21 people, denied involvement. Authorities, who in the past have been quick to blame the guerrillas, avoided jumping to any conclusion with no suspects in custody.
Wednesday's bombing was carried out by a man who posed as a ferry passenger and mingled with the crowd before leaving a plastic bag that exploded at a food stall outside the fenced-in ferry terminal, police chief Supt. Isidro Lapena said.
Forty people were injured in the blast, and two children and a nun were among those killed. Many victims were customers and operators of food stalls.
"We have a sketch of the suspect based on description of witnesses," police spokesman Senior Supt. Eric Javier told The Associated Press. Javier described him as a male about 36 years old.
Police said they were questioning several people, but none was considered a suspect.
The string of attacks in the volatile south came during a debate over the role of U.S. troops who are helping the Philippine government fight Muslim insurgents. Arroyo has ruled out a combat role for the American soldiers, though they can help train Philippine forces.
She urged Filipinos to be on the alert for terrorism.
"We must not be intimidated," she said Wednesday. "The police and the military alone cannot do the job. This is a total war requiring the full attention and resources of the entire community."
Arroyo said prayers at the blast site, which was covered with flowers and candles. She also talked to the injured at Davao Medical Center and handed out government aid funds.
Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, who accompanied Arroyo, said the government was considering creating an internal defense command in Davao, which Arroyo declared to be in a state of "lawless violence." He did not elaborate, but such a move would allow the military, constitutionally charged with external defense, to aid police in restoring law and order.
No one has been arrested in last month's bombing at Davao airport, but warrants have been issued for Moro rebel leaders. Rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu condemned Wednesday's attack.