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Blasts hit Philippine capital as emergency lifted

Written by: Staff

MANILA, March 3 (Reuters) Two blasts rocked the Philippine capital today just minutes before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lifted a state of emergency that has been in place for a week.

Officials said there were two blasts near the offices of an elite police team in Manila, but the cause was not yet known.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the explosions in the Ortigas district, an upmarket shopping and eating area in northwestern Manila.

The blasts came just minutes before Arroyo issued a statement calling off a state of emergency imposed last Friday after the discovery of a coup plot.

Arroyo's security chiefs yesterday said the threat of a coup attempt by leftist opponents and renegade soldiers had receded.

The blasts spooked investors, sending Manila's main stock market index <.PSI> down 0.23 per cent. The peso weakened to 51.26 per dollar from an earlier high of 51.13.

Television reported one explosion near the Metrowalk shopping area and the other in a vacant lot used as a carpark that separates the police office and the shopping area.

Maximum security levels in the capital were yesterday lowered after officials said the threat of a possible coup from leftist opponents and rebel soldiers had receded after a week of emergency rule.

Arroyo, who survived an impeachment attempt last year over allegations of vote-rigging and graft, invoked the emergency last Friday to confront what she said was a conspiracy of opposition foes, communist groups and ''military adventurists'' to oust her.

Reuters PR GC0919

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