3 Dead in Blast at Philippine Congress
The entrance to the Philippine House of Representatives on Tuesday after a blast killed a congressman and two others.
MANILA, Nov. 13 — An explosion on Tuesday evening in the Philippine House of Representatives killed three people, one of them a lawmaker, and wounded several others.
The blast, which occurred around 8:15 p.m. local time at the south lobby of the main building of the House of Representatives, killed Wahab Akbar, a congressman. Also killed was Marcial Talbo, the driver for Representative Luz Ilagan. The Associated Press reported that a congressional staff member also died in the attack.
Ms. Ilagan was wounded in the right leg and back, and another congressman, Henry Teves, was in critical condition at a hospital, officials said.
At least eight people, some of them congressional staff members, were also hurt in the explosion, according to the police.
The House speaker, Jose de Venecia Jr., confirmed Mr. Akbar’s death and called the explosion “an act of terrorism.”
“I don’t want to be frightened by these terrorists and destabilizers, so I have ordered the sessions to resume tomorrow,” Mr. de Venecia said in a phone interview. He said the police would search the grounds of Congress the rest of the night for other possible explosives.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the country’s police chief, Avelino Razon, to lead an investigation into the blast, her spokesman said.
The police said Mr. Akbar was very likely the intended target of the attack. A witness, Sandra Cam, told the radio station DZBB that Mr. Akbar was talking on his cellphone on his way to his sport utility vehicle when the explosion took place.
Cris Puno, a spokesman for Mr. Akbar, told reporters that the attack might have been planned by the congressman’s political rivals. Mr. Akbar and his family have for decades ruled Basilan, an island in the south notorious as a sanctuary of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.
His first wife is the current governor, while another wife is the mayor of Isabela, the provincial capital. Mr. Akbar, a Muslim, was a former governor of the province and an important figure in the American-supported campaign to stamp out Abu Sayyaf in his province.
Police officers, emergency workers and firefighters were still arriving on the scene around 8:30 p.m. The explosion set off a fire in the south wing of the building, ABS-CBN television reported. The network showed images of damage to the lobby ceiling.
The explosion at the Congress, the first in its history, came a few weeks after a bombing in a shopping mall killed 11 people and wounded dozens of others. The authorities said the blast at the mall could have been an accident, although they were not ruling out terrorism.
The legislators are deliberating whether to impeach Mrs. Arroyo, who is accused of corruption and human rights violations.
Several terrorist groups are active in the Philippines, including Abu Sayyaf, which has been responsible for some of the worst attacks in the country’s recent history. Western countries, led by the United States, have offered millions of dollars in aid and security assistance to help the Philippine government fight both Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah, the terrorist network in Indonesia that is accused of having ties to Al Qaeda.