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15 wounded in 2 explosions in restive southern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least 15 people have been wounded in two separate blasts that hit a police camp in a restive southern Philippine province where Muslim militants operate, police said Saturday.

The first explosion was caused by a grenade near a mosque at the police compound in the Sulu provincial capital of Jolo late Friday, according to a police report. It was followed minutes later by a more powerful blast from a homemade bomb.

At least five civilians, including three children, and 10 policemen were wounded.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, but police suspect the Abu Sayyaf group, which has had links to al-Qaida.

Police last week killed a suspected Abu Sayyaf member allegedly involved in kidnappings in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, close to Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf is estimated to number about 400 fighters, and has turned to ransom kidnappings and extortion to survive following setbacks from U.S.-backed military offensives.

The group is still holding a Dutch birdwatcher who was seized three years ago, and a southern Philippine town mayor abducted from her home last month.

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