Explosions ripped through a market and a bakery Thursday in two southern Philippines towns, killing five people and wounding at least 58 in attacks that left a hospital emergency room floor awash with blood.
The nearly simultaneous explosions in Jolo, capital of Jolo Island, and Zamboanga, on the island of Mindanao, led police to suspect the blasts could be the work of guerrillas fighting for a separate Islamic state in the predominantly Christian Philippines.
Abu Sayyaf rebels are holding 21 hostages, including 19 foreigners, in a mountaintop hideout on Jolo Island, and a team of doctors returning from the guerrilla camp after the explosions said one of the hostages was reportedly nearly three months pregnant and should be freed. Negotiations for the hostages' release were likely to start today or Saturday, said Libyan envoy and negotiator Abdul Rajab Azzarouq.
In the town of Jolo, witnesses saw three men throw grenades from the second floor of the public market. Two of the grenades exploded in a rice stall and the third blew up in a crowded alley, police chief Muhammad Alamia said. Four people were killed and at least 39 others were wounded, police said.
Another explosion _ described by police as "a very powerful homemade bomb" _ killed one woman in Zamboanga and wounded at least 19 other people, hospital officials said.
The wounded on Jolo were taken to hospitals where victims lay on the emergency room floor, wet with blood, while doctors treated them.