Wire: 2 US Navy Servicemembers Killed in Philippines Blast, Al-Qaida Link Suspected
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that two U.S. Navy servicemembers and a Philippines marine were killed Tuesday in a roadside blast in the southern Philippines that officials said was likely an attack by suspected al-Qaida-linked militants.
It was believed to be just the second time U.S. servicemembers have been killed in the southern Philippines in violence blamed on the Abu Sayyaf group since American counterterrorism troops were deployed to the region in 2002, and the first fatalities in seven years, according to an Associated Press report.
One Philippine marine also was killed and two others were wounded in the blast on Jolo island, a poor, predominantly Muslim region where the Americans have been providing combat training and weapons to Filipino troops battling the Abu Sayyaf.One U.S. servicemember died at the scene, while another who was critically wounded in the blast died a short time later, Brawner told AP.
Philippine officials described the blast as being caused by a land mine, a description normally used for military-grade weapons. The U.S. Embassy said it was an improvised explosive device.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said a Philippine military convoy joined by U.S. troops was on its way to Kagay village in Jolo's Indanan township where troops were building two school buildings and digging artesian wells when the land mine exploded.
They were from the Naval Construction Battalions, or Seabees, which gather skilled craftsmen like electricians and carpenters into special military units.
In a statement, the U.S. Embassy said the deaths happened when the soldiers' vehicle struck an improvised explosive device at about 8:45 a.m. (0045 GMT) during a resupply mission for the school construction project.
The troops were not identified pending notification of next of kin.
(Report from newswire sources.)