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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

5 Dead in Philippine Mall Bombings

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines -- At least five people were killed and 144 wounded when bombs ripped through a shopping center in the largely Christian city of Zamboanga in the southern Philippines on Thursday, officials said.

At least 143 people, including women and children, were wounded in what the military said looked like an attack by Muslim extremists, possibly the Jemaah Islamiah, an Indonesia-based group with alleged ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

"We have five dead -- a child, three women and a man," a spokeswoman for the Zamboanga city government told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

The bombing was the second to hit Zamboanga this month. On Oct. 2, a bomb exploded outside a bar near a military camp, killing a U.S. soldier and two Filipino civilians.

Police suspect that blast was the handiwork of local Muslim Abu Sayyaf guerrillas linked by the United States to al-Qaida.

On the southern coast of the politically troubled island of Mindanao, Zamboanga lies in the heartland of a separatist rebellion that has killed more than 125,000 people since it began in 1972.

In 1996, Manila negotiated a peace deal with the biggest guerrilla group, the Moro National Liberation Front, and is holding peace talks with another group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But the Abu Sayyaf and other smaller groups have continued to defy Manila.