MANILA, Philippines — A powerful blast killed at least 3 people and wounded 27 others in a budget hotel packed with wedding guests in the southern Philippines, officials said Monday.
The explosion, suspected to have been caused by a bomb, ignited a fire that gutted the two-story Atilano Pension House in downtown Zamboanga city late Sunday.
The blast was so powerful it caused much of the second floor to collapse, blew off the hotel roof and shattered glass panes and windows from nearby buildings, Zamboanga city Mayor Celso Lobregat said.
Two of the wounded were in serious condition in a hospital, he said.
Zamboanga, a bustling city where U.S. counterterrorism troops are based, has been hit by deadly bombings blamed on al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants in the past.
The blast occurred in room 226 on the second floor of the hotel, instantly killing two people staying in two adjacent rooms, which were devastated by the blast. A third body was found dead Monday on the ground floor, pinned by the cement slabs that collapsed from above.
Initial investigation pointed to a bomb, Lobregat said, adding that he has asked Zamboanga residents to stay calm.
“We should not show that we’re panicking because that is what these troublemakers relish to see,” Lobregat told The Associated Press by telephone. “We have good leads; we will get all of them.”