Three men face murder charges in Manila bomb probe

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MANILA, Nov 19 (Reuters) Philippine police have sought murder charges against three men for last week's suspected assassination of a Muslim lamaker in a bomb attack at the Congress building, officials said today.

State lawyers will question police and the three men late next week and then decide whether there is sufficient evidence to bring them to trial.

''The three did not admit nor deny the charges,'' state prosecutor Peter Ong told reporters.

Four people were killed when a motorcycle bomb exploded at one of the entrances to Congress in what police have said was an attempt to kill Wahab Akbar, a lawmaker representing Basilan island, a volatile southern province.

Geary Barias, Manila's police chief, said one of the three suspects had admitted during interrogation that he parked the motorcycle at the south entrance of the Congress building hours before the improvised bomb detonated.

''The suspects confirmed our suspicion that Congressman Wahab Akbar was the target of the bomb attack,'' Barias said, adding they were still trying to establish the motive for the attack.

The three men were arrested in a house a few blocks from Congress. Three others, including a woman, were killed when soldiers and police raided the house.

Barias said police were trying to find the affiliation of the the three men although they did not appear to be members of the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf, which operates from Basilan.

Lawmaker Akbar had links to the Abu Sayyaf despite moving into the political mainstream in 1998 when he was elected governor of Basilan.

Reuters SKB VP1258

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