Blast hits mall in southern Philippines, 1 dead

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MANILA, Nov 22 (Reuters) A crude bomb ripped through a packaging counter at a shopping mall in the southern Philippines killing one and wounding four today, and a second device was deactivated before it went off, police officials said.

The police chief in Kidapawan City, 945 km (587 miles) south of Manila, said the improvised device was placed inside a black backpack left at the package counter at the entrance to KMCC shopping mall.

''We're still investigating the incident,'' Chief Inspector Leo Ajero said, adding another home-made bomb was disarmed in another part of the shopping centre.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Small-scale bombings are common in the volatile southern Philippines, where there are long-running Muslim and communist insurgencies and bandits sometimes use explosives to extort money.

The Philippines has been rattled by a number of explosions in recent weeks. The congressional building in Manila was bombed last week in an apparent assassination of a Muslim lawmaker.

The Congress attack came barely a month after an explosion in an upscale Manila mall killed 11 people.

The police have said the Glorietta mall blast was caused by a gas explosion and a final report on the cause would be completed within the next three weeks.

REUTERS PD ND1610

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